7 PM Editorial |Increasing Food Insecurity In India|24th August 2020

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Increasing Food Insecurity In India

Introduction:

SOFI(State of Food Security and Nutrition) report, 2020 was released recently. It shows that the world is not on track in achieving the SDG(Sustainable development goal)-2 target of zero hunger. Further,the report estimates that India has the largest food insecure population in the world with an increase of 3.8% in food insecure population between 2014-19.

About SOFI report:

Released by following UN agencies jointly:

  • FAO(Food and Agriculture Organization)
  • International Fund for Agricultural Development(IFAI), a UN specialized agency
  • UNICEF,
  • World Food Programme and
  • WHO(World health organization)

Measure of 2 indicators of food insecurity:

  • Prevalence of Undernourishment(POU)– Estimates population facing chronic deficiency of calories.
    • Based on national consumption surveys and food balance sheets. Hence it is based on delayed data.
  • Prevalence of Moderate and Severe Food Insecurity(PMSFI)– Measures lack of access to adequate and nutritious food through annual data on skipping meals and changing diet diversity because of a lack of resources
    • PMFSI uses FIES – Food insecurity experience scale to measure food insecurity. FIES is developed by FAO.
    • FAO conducts FAO-GWP(Gallup world poll) survey to arrive at FIES of a country. Separate surveys are also done independently by countries to arrive at FIES estimates.
India, SOFI report and food insecurity:

NSSO’s consumption expenditure survey(CES) is used for estimating POU of SOFI report in India. Further, India does not accept FAO-GWP estimates and prevents its publication.

Data issues:

  • NSSO CES for 2017-18 is still not published. Hence it prevents accurate current estimates of PoU scores for India.
    • This leads to use of supply side data on per capita food availabilty to estimate undernourishment. But in India this is not credible as despite high availability of food stocks, accessibility and afforddability to people is lower.
  • Lack of official FIES estimates and non publication of FAO-GWP prevents credible data on food insecurity.

Despite these issues, food insecurity data for India can be derived from data of PoU. Following trends are seen:

  • 22% of global burdenof food insecurity in India
  • Rise in food insecurity: 3.7% rise in people with food insecurity from 2014-16 to 2017-19. This is opposite of South Asia where the trend is of falling insecurity.
  • Fall in calorie intake by 3.7%between 2011-12 to 2017-18

Reasons for this trend are:

  • Agrarian distress
  • Falling investments across sectors and resultant economic downturn
  • Falling employment opportunities. PLFS data had shown unemployment rate of 6.1% which is highest in 4 decades.
  • Economic slowdown due to demonetization and GST reform.
Conclusion:

Stringent lockdown and subsequent economic distress have only compounded food insecurity in India. Loss of livelihoods and incomes are leading to hunger and hunger related deaths. Collecting credible data is needed to address the food security issues of different sections of population. This data has to be acted upon to reclaim progress towards SDG-2 of zero hunger.

Source: The Hindu

Mains question:
  1. TPDS(Targeted Public distribution System) has addressed food insecurity in India effectively. Critically examine? [15 marks, 250 words]
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