CONTEXT: The first and historic United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) 2021 was held in September, to find solutions and ‘catalyse momentum’ to transform the path the world produces, consumes food and help address rise in hunger.
As a larger goal, this transformation in food systems is considered as essential in achieving the sustainable development agenda 2030. And 11 out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are directly related to the food system.
The Network of Global food systems are needed to produce and transform food, and ensure that food travels from farm to plate — are in a crisis type state in many countries affecting the poor and the vulnerable.
The shortcomings in food systems are badly disturbing around 811 million people globally, sleeping without having food daily.
The debate focused on five action tracks namely:-
Ensure access to safe and nutritious food for all
Shift to sustainable consumption patterns
Boost nature-positive production
Advance equitable livelihoods
Build resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks, and stress
The summit created a mechanism for serious debates engaging:-
UN member states
Academicians and Research-Scholars
The summit provided a chance to entitle the people to take the advantage of the power of food systems, to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and at the same time getting on track to achieve 17 SDGs by 2030.
Outcome of the Summit– The Statement of Action (from the summit) present :-
A set of ambitious, high principles and areas for action to support the global call to “Build back better” after the corona pandemic.
WHAT INDIA DID?
India constituted an inter-departmental group, with representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Rural Development, and others including FAO, WFP, IFAD etc.
The National dialogues with various stakeholders of agri-food systems were conducted to inspect the national course towards creating sustainable and equitable food systems in India.
LESSONS FROM INDIA: (India’s tryst with food insecurity)
India’s journey from shortage of food to surplus food production, offers several interesting lessons for other developing countries throughout the world in general and developing countries in particular.
These lessons can be drawn out in different fields like:-
Regulatory Frameworks and Mechanisms
Public Support System
Intervention in agricultural markets and prices
Agricultural research, innovation and extension
The period between 1991 to 2015, witnessed the diversification of agriculture beyond field crops. The target was shifted towards the horticulture, dairy, animal husbandry, and fishery sectors.
The learnings encircle the nutritional health, food safety and standards, sustainability, deployment of space technology, etc.
India’s Safety net:
India passed the National Food Security Act 2013 announcing the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), the Mid-Day meals (MDM), and the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), covering over a crore people today.
Currently, India’s food safety nets and inclusion are linked with public procurement and buffer stock policy, which helped immensely during 2008-2012 global food crisis as well as covid-19 pandemic(helping vulnerable and marginalised people)- by its TPDS and buffer stock of food grains.
Challenges and the way forward towards 2050:
Unsustainable use of land and water resources
Related Health Outcomes
Undernutrition and Malnutrition
India has taken a bold decision to fortify rice with iron (supplied through the PDS)..
India has Surplus, still low nutrition?
Despite being a net exporter and an agrarian country, As compared to the world average, India has 50% more undernutrition.
But during 2018-20, the proportion of the undernourished population declined from 21.6% (2004-06) to 15.4%.
The high undernutrition in India was not due to food shortage or its low availability.
Food wastage in India exceeds ₹1-lakh crore.
To address the challenge of undernutrition and malnutrition, Steps by GOI:-
Supply of fortified rice in PDS
Why to eliminate hunger ?
Consequences of COVID-19 Pandemic
A/c ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World’ report, around 1/10th of the global population was undernourished last year.
Hunger and food insecurity are key drivers of conflict and instability across the world. ‘Food is peace’, is a catchphrase often used to highlight how hunger and conflict feed on each other.
The Nobel Peace Prize 2020 conferred on the United Nations WFP underlines the importance of addressing hunger to prevent conflicts and create stability.
TO CONCLUDE: With the target to make the world free of hunger by 2030 and deliver promises for SDGs, with strong cooperation and partnership between governments, citizens, civil society organisations, and the private sector. We all must collaborate to invest, innovate, and create lasting solutions in sustainable agriculture and contribute to equitable livelihood, food security, and nutrition.
India can help the world immensely, with its experience in the same with the goal of balancing growth and sustainability, mitigating climate change, ensuring healthy, safe, quality, and affordable food, maintaining biodiversity, improving resilience, and offering an attractive income and work environment to smallholders and youth. The goal can be achieved by anchoring around small- and medium-scale production, family farmers, indigenous peoples, women, and workers in food value chains. Thus, with the participation of all stakeholders, this can be achieved within the stipulated time period. This is the high time for the authorities to take required steps in the right direction with each others’ cooperation.