Editorial Analysis : 14/10/2021


Editorial 1 – Sowing better to eat better – Hindu


Summary of the issue discussed

  • Editorial discusses about the need for a transformative change Agri-food system for better production, nutrition, environment and life

Background

  • The findings from the first round of the Fifth National Family Health Survey suggest that nutrition-related indicators have worsened in most States. In addition, findings from the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (2016-18) have highlighted the role of micro-nutrient malnutrition.

Importance

  • Agri-food systems are the most important part of the Indian economy. Indian produces sufficient food, feed and fibre to sustain about 18% of the world’s population(as of 2020). Agriculture contributes about 16.5% to India’s GDP and employs 42.3% of the workforce (2019-20).
  • An “agri-food system” may be simply defined as the combination of activities and institutions around the production and consumption of a particular food item. These systems are complex, operating simultaneously at multiple levels of scale (from global to local) and time (particularly with respect to the timing of outcomes).
  • Agri-food system activities include production, storage, processing, wholesaling and consumption. In addition to these activities, an agri-food system also includes a complex “web of institutional and regulatory frameworks that influence those systems”. It is primarily through these frameworks that most policy interventions operate.

Pathways for nutritional security

For Indians to eat better, India must sow better. A structural shift in dietary pattern and nutrition requires a shift in production.

Pathways for nutritional security consist of:

  • Improving dietary diversity
  • Kitchen gardens
  • Reducing post-harvest losses
  • Making safety net programmes more nutrition-sensitive
  • Women’s empowerment
  • Enforcement of standards and regulations
  • Improving Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
  • Nutrition education
  • Effective use of digital technology.

Challenges faced by country’s agri-food systems

  • While COVID-19 has exacerbated the nutrition issue, climate change has challenged agricultural production itself.
  • The country’s agri-food systems are facing new and unprecedented challenges, especially related to
    • Economic and ecological sustainability
    • Nutrition
    • The adoption of new agricultural technologies.
    • The edifice of India’s biosecurity remains vulnerable to disasters and extreme events,.

Need for Reorientation of agri-food system

  • There is an urgent need for reorientation of the long term direction of agri-food systems to not only enhance farm incomes but to also ensure better access to safe and nutritious foods.
  • Agri food systems need to be reoriented to minimize cost on the environment and the climate. This need is recognized by the theme of World Food Day 2021: Our actions are our future. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life. World Food Day marks the foundation day of the FAO. 

A sustainable agri-food system

  • It is one in which a variety of sufficient, nutritious and safe foods are made available at an affordable price to everyone, and nobody goes hungry or suffers from any form of malnutrition.
  • Less food is wasted, and the food supply chain is more resilient to shocks.
  • Food systems can help combat environmental degradation or climate change.
  • Sustainable agri-food systems can deliver food security and nutrition for all, without compromising the economic, social and environmental bases.

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