22 Feb 2023
GS Paper 3
Question 1: What is hidden hunger? Discuss the steps that need to be taken to ensure nutritional security of people. (250 words)
Question 2: Discuss contract farming and challenges related to it in India. (150 words)
- Give a brief Introduction about hidden hunger.
- Discuss the measures that should be taken to ensure nutritional security.
- Write a holistic and appropriate conclusion.
- Hidden hunger, also known as micronutrient deficiency, is a form of undernutrition that occurs when people do not have sufficient intake of essential vitamins and minerals in their diets.
- Unlike malnutrition, which is often characterized by visible symptoms such as stunted growth and extreme thinness, hidden hunger can be difficult to detect because its symptoms may not be immediately apparent.
- Causes of Hidden Hunger:
- Poor diet: A diet that lacks diversity and variety can lead to hidden hunger. Consuming a limited range of foods may not provide all the essential micronutrients required for good health.
- Soil depletion: Micronutrients that are essential for human health, such as iron, zinc, and iodine, are often deficient in soil. This can result in crops grown in these soils being low in these micronutrients.
- Poverty: Poverty and food insecurity are major factors in hidden hunger. People who are poor may not be able to afford a diverse and balanced diet, which can lead to a lack of essential micronutrients.
- Poor access to healthcare: Inadequate healthcare can also contribute to hidden hunger. Lack of access to healthcare can result in micronutrient deficiencies going undiagnosed and untreated.
- Poor sanitation and hygiene: Infections, especially those of the gastrointestinal tract, can interfere with the absorption of micronutrients. Poor sanitation and hygiene can lead to frequent infections, which can exacerbate micronutrient deficiencies.
- Gender inequalities: Women and girls are at greater risk of hidden hunger due to gender inequalities. They may have less access to nutritious foods and may also have greater nutritional needs due to menstruation, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.
- Ensuring nutritional security for all individuals is a complex task that requires a multifaceted approach involving multiple stakeholders, including governments, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector. Some of the key steps that need to be taken to ensure nutritional security of people are:
- Improve access to food: The first step towards ensuring nutritional security is to improve access to nutritious food. This can be achieved through initiatives such as food subsidies, food assistance programs, and social safety nets for vulnerable populations.
- Increase agricultural productivity: Agriculture plays a crucial role in ensuring food security. Governments can support agricultural development by investing in research and development, providing farmers with access to credit and agricultural inputs, and improving infrastructure for the transportation and storage of food.
- Promote food diversity: A diverse diet is important for meeting the nutritional needs of individuals. Governments can promote the production and consumption of a wide range of nutrient-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, and animal-source foods.
- Improve nutritional education: Nutritional education can help individuals make informed decisions about their diets and promote healthy eating practices. Governments can invest in public awareness campaigns, school-based nutrition programs, and health education programs.
- Address health issues: Addressing health issues that can impact nutrition, such as infectious diseases, can also help improve nutritional security. Governments can invest in public health initiatives to reduce the prevalence of diseases that can impact nutrition, such as malaria and diarrhea.
- Strengthen social safety nets: Social safety nets such as cash transfers and food assistance programs can help vulnerable populations access food and meet their nutritional needs.
- Promote sustainable food systems: Promoting sustainable food systems can help ensure that food production is environmentally sustainable and resilient to climate change. This includes investing in sustainable agricultural practices, reducing food waste, and promoting local and regional food systems.
Ensuring nutritional security for all individuals requires a comprehensive and coordinated approach that addresses the multiple factors that contribute to undernutrition. Governments, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector all have a role to play in achieving this goal.
- Give a brief introduction about contract farming.
- Mention the associated challenges and measures.
- Write a holistic and appropriate conclusion.
- Contract farming is an agreement between farmers and companies or agribusiness firms, in which the farmers agree to grow crops according to specific guidelines and quality standards set by the companies.
- Model Contract Farming Act, 2018 provide benefits to both farmers and companies. It can provide farmers with access to markets, inputs, and technology, while companies can secure a consistent supply of high-quality produce.
- In India, contract farming has been promoted as a way to increase agricultural productivity, reduce risks for farmers, and promote private sector investment in agriculture. However, there are several challenges related to contract farming in India, including:
- Unequal bargaining power: Companies may have more bargaining power than individual farmers, and this can lead to farmers being forced to accept unfavorable terms and conditions.
- Lack of legal framework: There is no comprehensive legal framework in India that governs contract farming. This can create uncertainty and a lack of transparency in the contract farming process.
- Limited access to credit: Small farmers may have limited access to credit, which can make it difficult for them to invest in the inputs and equipment necessary for contract farming.
- Dependence on one crop: Contract farming may encourage farmers to specialize in a single crop, which can increase their vulnerability to market fluctuations and climate risks.
- Quality and price concerns: Companies may have strict quality standards that are difficult for farmers to meet, or they may offer low prices for produce that do not reflect the true value of the crop.
- Dispute resolution: Disputes can arise between farmers and companies, and there may not be clear mechanisms in place for resolving these disputes.
- Based on the challenges related to contract farming in India, some of the measures that can be taken to address these challenges and promote the success of contract farming include:
- Ensuring transparency and fairness in the contract farming process: This can be achieved by setting up a legal framework that regulates contract farming and establishes clear guidelines for agreements. The framework should ensure that farmers have access to information about pricing, quality standards, and the terms and conditions of the agreement.
- APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) Act of 2003: It includes particular regulations for contract farming, such as mandatory registration of sponsors involved in contract farming and the establishment of a mechanism for resolving disputes.
- It is worth noting that in India, contract farming is also subject to regulation under the Indian Contract Act of 1872 in addition to the specific provisions outlined in the APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) Act of 2003.
- Providing technical assistance and training to farmers: Small farmers may not have the necessary knowledge or skills to meet the quality standards required by companies. Providing technical assistance and training to farmers can help them improve their crop yields and the quality of their produce.
- Promoting crop diversification: Dependence on a single crop can increase farmers' vulnerability to market fluctuations and climate risks. Encouraging crop diversification can help mitigate these risks.
- Providing access to credit: Access to credit can be a major barrier for small farmers who want to participate in contract farming. Governments can provide credit facilities to farmers or encourage private banks to offer credit to farmers at affordable interest rates.
- Encouraging the development of farmer producer organizations (FPOs): FPOs can help farmers negotiate better terms and conditions with companies and reduce the power imbalance between individual farmers and companies.
- Facilitating dispute resolution mechanisms: Clear mechanisms for resolving disputes can help to reduce conflicts between farmers and companies. The legal framework should provide clear guidelines for dispute resolution and establish a system for monitoring and enforcing contracts.
- Encouraging sustainable agriculture practices: Contract farming can provide an opportunity to promote sustainable agriculture practices that reduce the use of harmful chemicals and promote soil health. Governments can provide incentives for farmers who adopt sustainable agriculture practices.
Promoting the success of contract farming in India requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the various challenges faced by farmers and companies. By providing technical assistance, promoting crop diversification, and ensuring transparency and fairness in the contract farming process, governments and other stakeholders can help to ensure that contract farming benefits both farmers and companies. To address these challenges, there is a need for a comprehensive legal framework that protects the rights of farmers and ensures transparency in the contract farming process. Additionally, there is a need to improve access to credit and provide technical support to small farmers.