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Social Justice

National Food and Nutrition Security Analysis

  • 26 Jun 2019
  • 7 min read

According to the National Food and Nutrition Security Analysis report, malnutrition amongst children in India is projected to remain high, despite all the progress made in food security.

  • National Food and Nutrition Security Analysis report, was developed in partnership between the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India.

Findings of the Report

  • The slow decline of child stunting: Over the last decade, child stunting has reduced at a rate of about 1% per year, the slowest decline among emerging economies. At this rate, 31.4% of children will still be stunted by the 2022 deadline.
    • Almost one in three Indian children under five years will still be stunted by 2022 going by current trends.
  • Access to nutritious food has not increased: Foodgrain yields have risen 33% over the last two decades, but are still only half of 2030 target yields
    • The consumer’s access to rice, wheat and other cereals has not increased at the same rate, due to population growth, inequality, food wastage and losses, and exports.
    • As a result, the average per capita consumption of energy among the poorest 30% of the population is 1811 kilocalories, much lower than the norm of 2155 kilocalories per day.
  • Under and overnutrition: For several decades India was dealing with only one form of malnutrition- undernutrition. However, in the last decade, the double burden which includes both over- and undernutrition, is becoming more prominent and poses a new challenge for India.
  • Despite positive trends and patterns in improving food security, the prevalence of malnutrition in India remains high, with many people, especially women and children, suffering from micronutrient deficiency.
  • Performance of States: In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh the stunting rate is around 48% and 46% respectively. It shows that in these states almost every 2nd child is stunted.
  • Whereas in Kerala and Goa, it is only one in five children.
  • The most vulnerable: There are high rates of stunting among children in the poorest wealth quintile is (51.4%), Scheduled Tribes (43.6%) and Scheduled Castes (42.5%), and children born to mothers with no education (51%).
  • Stunting: It is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation. Children are defined as stunted if their height-for-age is more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median.
  • According to UNICEF, 38% of children younger than five years of age in India are stunted, a manifestation of chronic undernutrition. Stunting and other forms of under-nutrition are thought to be responsible for nearly half of all child deaths globally.

Key Recommendations

Recommendations are grouped by the three pillars of food security: availability, access and utilisation.

  • Farmers should be encouraged and incentivised for agricultural diversification.
  • Innovative and low-cost farming technologies, increase in the irrigation coverage and enhancing knowledge of farmers in areas such as appropriate use of land and water should be encouraged to improve the sustainability of food productivity.
  • The government should improve policy support for improving agricultural produce of traditional crops in the country.
  • Storage capacity should be improved to prevent post-harvest losses.
  • The targeting efficiency of all food safety nets should be improved, especially that of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), to ensure that the poorest are included.
    • In addition, fortification of government-approved commodities within the social safety net programmes can improve nutritional outcomes.
  • Child feeding practices should be improved in the country, especially at the critical ages when solid foods are introduced to the diet.
    • Fortification, diversification and supplementation may be used as simultaneous strategies to address micro and macronutrient deficiencies.
  • There is a need for more robust measures that can take cognizance of all aspects of SDG 2.
  • All the major welfare programmes need to be gender sensitive.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)- 2

  • Goal 2 of the 2030 Sustainable Development agenda seeks to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition and double agricultural productivity in the next 15 years.
    • Ensuring this sustainable access to nutritious food universally will require sustainable food production and agricultural practices.
  • Target 2.1: By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular, the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.
  • Target 2.2: By 2030, end-all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons.

World Food Programme (WFP)

  • It is the food assistance branch of the United Nations and the world's largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security.
  • Its headquarters are in Rome and it works to help people who cannot produce or obtain enough food for themselves and their families.
  • The WFP was formally established in 1963 by the FAO and the United Nations General Assembly on a three-year experimental basis. In 1965, the programme was extended to a continuing basis.
  • It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and part of its executive committee.
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