SDG 2: Zero Hunger

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Global Picture
  • Hunger is not merely missing a meal for millions of people around the world, but a debilitating crisis that takes a toll on their livelihood, health, and well-being
    • Eradicating hunger is necessary for uplifting this vast proportion of the population from abject poverty and ensuring their development
    • Around 821 million persons (one in nine people) in the world, do not have access to sufficient food to lead a healthy and active life, with poor nutrition causing almost half of the deaths in children under five
    • The fact that world hunger is on the rise consecutively for three years now it is a matter of disquiet
  • It is important to emphasize that hunger is a problem not because there is not enough food for everyone
    • The world produces more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet
    • But millions of people around the world are simply too poor to be able to buy food
    • They also lack the resources to grow their food, such as arable land and the means to harvest, process, and store food
    • Government spending on agriculture worldwide has declined by 37% as compared to the contribution of agriculture to the economy and aid to agriculture in developing countries plummeted from 25% in the mid-1980s to merely 5% in 2017
    • Conflicts around the world, including wars between countries, civil wars within countries, terrorism, and other violence, displace millions of people leading to increased hunger and malnourishment
  • Hunger creates a vicious cycle of poverty and underdevelopment

Indian Picture
  • With a nearly six-fold increase in food grain production from 50 million tonnes in 1950-51 to more than 283.37 million tonnes in 2018-19, India has done well to expand food production and build up stocks of food grains
  • Access to subsidized food has been made an entitlement and an incrementally efficient public distribution system enables access to food grains far and wide in the country
  • Special initiatives are taken to ensure access to food of vulnerable sections of people
  • Given the fact that 70% of rural Indian households are dependent on agriculture and improved food, availability is the basis of sustainable access, innovative initiatives are being introduced to modernize the agriculture and arrest the negative impacts of climate change
Measures Taken by the Indian Government
  • Food and Nutrition Security
    • The implementation of a revamped Public Distribution System under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 is a paradigm shift in the approach towards the issue of food security at the household level, from welfare to a rights-based approach
      • This Act covers about two-thirds of the population with 75% of rural and 50% of urban population to receive subsidized food grains – rice, wheat, and coarse grains at affordable prices (INR 3/ 2/ 1, respectively) per kg
      • The Act has been implemented in all States/ UTs and has reached around 807 million people
    • Under the “Antyodaya Anna Yojana” (AAY), the poorest from amongst the Below Poverty Line families are entitled to 35 kg of food grains per month at more subsidized rates
      • The NFSA adopts a life cycle approach making special provisions for ensuring food security of pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children from 6 months to 14 years of age
    • Under the Integrated Child Development Services, 70.37 million children in the age range 6 months to 6 years, and 17.18 million pregnant women and lactating mothers are provided access to nutritious food on 31st March 2019
    • Another initiative aimed at achieving better nutrition standards for school going children is the Mid-day meal (MDM) scheme, which provides nutritious cooked mid-day meal with the calorie range of 450-700 to over 120 million children at primary and upper primary levels
    • The National Nutrition Mission (Poshan Abhiyaan), a multi-ministerial convergence mission was launched in 2018 to make a concerted attack on under-nutrition, stunting, and anemia
      • The Mission targets to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anemia (among young children, women, and adolescent girls), and low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3%, and 2% per annum, respectively
      • It targets to bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022
  • Agricultural Productivity and Income
    • India’s foodgrain requirement to adequately provide for its population is projected to range from 334-350 million tonnes by 2032-33
      • The country’s estimated food grains production in 2018-19 was 283.37 million tonnes,7 which was higher by about 18 million tonnes than the average of the last 5 years
      • This indicates that the expected rate of growth in the crop output is at par with the current growth trend
    • In this sector, the government has been implementing a multi-faceted strategy for doubling farmers’ income focusing on 7 growth factors:
      • Improved crop productivity
      • Increased livestock productivity
      • Cost-effective production processes
      • Increased cropping intensity
      • Crop diversification favoring high-value crops
      • Access to better prices
      • Shifting to the non-farm occupation
    • 221 million soil health cards have been distributed so far to farmers to help rationalize the use of fertilizers
    • The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) focuses on improving water efficiency with the motto of “Har Khet Ko Paani” and “Per drop more crop” and provides end-to-end solutions in the irrigation supply chain, viz. water sources, distribution network, and farm-level applications
    • The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) provides better insurance coverage and agricultural credit at a reduced rate of 4% per annum to farmers
    • The increase of the minimum support prices for all Kharif and rabi crops at least by 150% of the cost of production has also shored up farmers’ income
    • In addition, the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Scheme has been initiated to extend the payment of INR 6,000 per year to every farmer in the country, which provides a further boost to their income
    • Under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samapda Yojana, financing of mega food parks, the infrastructure of agro-processing clusters, and integrated cold chain and value addition infrastructure are undertaken, in addition to other components
  • Climate Adaptive Agriculture and Sustainability
    • Approximately 60% of India’s net sown area is rain-fed and produces around 84-87% pulses and coarse cereals, 77% oilseeds, 60% livestock, 60% cotton, and 50% fine cereals
    • Much of the coastal lands are under agriculture. Hence, food production in the country is highly vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change
    • The National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture, in tandem with other missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change, addresses the climate change risks and aims to increase agriculture productivity especially in rainfed areas focusing on integrated farming, soil health management, and synergizing resource conservation
    • Under National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA), climate-resilient technology demonstrations are implemented in 151 climatically vulnerable districts which aim to enhance farmers’ adaptive capacity and skills for resilient climate agriculture
    • District Agriculture Contingency Plans have been prepared for as many as 648 districts to adapt agriculture to adverse weather conditions

  • Food wastage and loss remain a major concern
    • It is estimated that globally nearly 40% of the fruits and vegetables, and 30% of cereals that are produced are lost due to inefficient supply chain management and do not reach the consumer market
    • While significant levels of food, losses occur upstream, at harvest and during post-harvest handling, a considerable quantity of food is lost or wasted during the distribution and consumption stages
    • Such food could be salvaged by timely withdrawing it from the distribution network, aggregating it and then redirecting it to the people in need
  • A fundamental element to food security is climate-smart sustainable agriculture, keenly promoted by the government
    • Challenges remain for wider adoption of climate-adaptive sustainable agriculture practices, new technology as well as agricultural development plans involving large swathes of land by small farmers, who often lack assets and resources and constitute more than 82% of all farmers
    • Besides sensitization and capacity development, their access to technology, financial inputs, and services like insurance, advanced weather-forecasting systems, and appropriate agricultural extension support will be essential
Best and Worst Performers
  • Best: Goa and Chandigarh
  • Worst: Jharkhand and Daman and Diu

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