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Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition: CFS

  • 13 Feb 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) has endorsed the first-ever Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition (VGFSyN) which aim to support countries to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in all its forms by utilizing a food systems approach.

  • The endorsement took place during the CFS 47th Session.

Key Points

  • About the Guidelines:
    • Food Systems Approach:
      • The Guidelines highlight the complex and multidimensional interlinkages between sustainable food systems and healthy diets.
      • Food systems are a complex web of activities involving production, processing, handling, preparation, storage, distribution, marketing, access, purchase, consumption, food loss and waste, as well as the outputs of these activities, including social, economic and environmental outcomes.
    • Seven Policy Areas:
      • Transparent, democratic and accountable governance.
      • Sustainable food supply chains to achieve healthy diets and in the context of climate change.
      • Equal and equitable access to healthy diets.
      • Food safety.
      • People-centred nutrition knowledge, education and information.
      • Gender equality and women’s empowerment across food systems.
      • Resilient food systems in humanitarian contexts.
    • Significance:
      • The guidelines are intended to build upon and complement the work and mandate of other international bodies, for example the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025) and Sustainable Development Goal (2) of ‘Zero Hunger’.
      • They call for realisation of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security for all, particularly for the most vulnerable and affected groups.
      • They focus on policy planning and governance so that food systems can be made more resilient and responsive and are in accordance with needs of consumers and producers too, especially small and marginal farmers.
  • Committee on World Food Security (CFS):
    • It is the foremost inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for all stakeholders to work together to ensure food security and nutrition for all.
    • The Committee reports to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly through the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Conference.
    • CFS holds an annual Plenary session every October in FAO, Rome.
    • CFS receives its core funding equally from the FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

India’s Scenario

  • State of Hunger and Malnutrition:
    • According to FAO estimates in ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2020’ Report:
      • 189.2 million people are undernourished in India i.e. 14% of the population is undernourished.
      • 51.4% of women in reproductive age between 15 to 49 years are anaemic.
      • 34.7% of the children aged under five are stunted (too short for their age) while 20% suffer from wasting (weight too low in proportion to height).
    • Besides, India ranked 94th among 107 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2020.
  • Initiatives Taken:
    • POSHAN Abhiyaan, launched in 2017-18, aims to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anemia and low birth weight babies through synergy and convergence among different programmes, better monitoring and improved community mobilisation.
    • Antoydaya Anna Yojana (AAY) aims to provide food at subsidized prices to poor families.
    • The Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) envisages comprehensive early childhood care and development by focussing on children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and adolescent girls.
    • The Mid-day Meal (MDM) scheme aims to improve nutritional levels among school children which also has a direct and positive impact on enrolment, retention and attendance in schools.
    • Under the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), Rs. 6,000 is transferred directly to the bank accounts of pregnant women for availing better facilities for their delivery.
    • The National Mission on Agriculture Extension and Technology enables delivery of appropriate technologies and improved agronomic practices for farmers.
    • The National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture aims to enhance agricultural productivity, and the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) aims to improve water-use efficiency.


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