News Excerpt
A report on State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2020 suggested that crores of people are likely to go hungry this year due to the economic recession triggered by COVID-19.

•    The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World is an annual flagship report jointly prepared by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
•    Its objective is to inform on progress towards ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition and to provide in-depth analysis on key challenges for achieving this goal in context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
•    The report targets a wide audience, including policy-makers, international organizations, academic institutions and the general public.

Key Findings of the Report (Global)
    As per the report, the COVID-19 could push over 130 million more people into chronic hunger by the end of 2020 globally.
    Asia has the highest number of undernourished (38 crore). Africa is second (25 crore), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (4.8 crore).
    Estimates drawn from data available till March 2020 shows that almost 69 crore people went hungry in 2019 — up by 1 crore in 2018.
    China and India are the two dominated countries in the eastern and southern Asia region that has progressively worked to reduce undernourishment.
    The report highlights that a healthy diet costs more than ₹143 (or $1.90/ day), which is the international poverty threshold.

For India
    Prevalence of stunting in children under 5 years of age in India declined from 47.8% in 2012 to 34.7% in 2019 or from 62 million in 2012 to 40.3 million in 2019
    The number of undernourished people in India has declined from 249.4 million in 2004–06 to 189.2 million in 2017–19 or 21.7% in 2004-06 to 14% in 2017-19.
    The rate of obesity in India has increased from 2012-2016.Obesity grew from 25.2 million in 2012 to 34.3 million in 2016, growing from 3.1 % to 3.9 % among the adults (18 years and older).
    Women of reproductive age (15-49) affected by anaemia grew from 165.6 million in 2012 to 175.6 million in 2016.
    Breastfed infants grew from 11.2 million in 2012 to 13.9 million in 2019.

Food insecurity in India
In Rural and Tribal Areas:
o    Mainly due to lack of improvement in agricultural productivity owing to inadequate resources and markets needed to obtain agricultural stability.
o    An agrarian crisis is currently being unleashed in India and it has a variety of causes, the prominent being the huge cut in government’s developmental expenditure in the nineties, particularly in rural areas.
o    Lack of education and job opportunities have aggravated problems.
o    Climate change has also an impact on the agricultural productivity.

In Urban Areas:
o    The emergence of rural origin pockets in the urban areas has resulted in a number of slum settlements characterized by inadequate water and sanitation facilities, insufficient housing and increased food insecurity.
o    Dependence of labourer class on daily employment wages which tends to be variable. Thus the food procurement and access is also fluctuating.

Women and Children
    Children are food insecure because of factors attributed to overpopulation, poverty, lack of education and gender inequality.
    Poverty is a major cause as it limits the amount of food available to children.
    Overpopulation is linked to conflict and can lead to under development amongst children.
    Lack of adequate knowledge regarding nutrition, breast-feeding and parenting is another area of concern.
    Gender inequality places the female child at a disadvantage compared to males and causes them to suffer more because they are last to eat and considered less important.
    There is neglect in preventive care (specifically immunization) and delays in seeking health care.
    Girls have far less opportunity of schooling than boys.
    Even where women may have access to basic facilities such as primary health care and elementary education, lack of opportunities for higher education, vocational and professional training limits their capacity.

Faulty Food Distribution System
    Inadequate distribution of food through PDS is also a reason for growing food insecurity in the country.
    Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) has the disadvantage in the sense that those who are deserving the subsidy are excluded on the basis of non-ownership of BPL status.
    It’s because of the baseless and arbitrary criteria, for identifying a household as BPL.

Government Programmes and Initiatives
National Food Security Mission: Government has launched this Centrally Sponsored Scheme, ‘National Food Security Mission’ in October 2007. The Mission met with an overwhelming success and achieved the targeted additional production of rice, wheat and pulses. The Mission continued during 12th FYP with new targets of additional production of 25 million tonnes food grains comprising 10 million tonnes rice, 8 million tonnes wheat, 4 million tonnes pulses and 3 million tonnes coarse cereals.
RashtriyaKrishiVikasYojana (RKVY): Concerned by slow growth in the Agriculture and it’s allied sectors, the erstwhile National Development Council (NDC), in its meeting held on 29th May, 2007 resolved that a special Additional Central Assistance Scheme i.e. RKVY be launched. The NDC resolved that agricultural development strategies must be reoriented to meet the needs of farmers and called upon the central and states to evolve a strategy to rejuvenate agriculture. The NDC reaffirmed its commitment to achieve 4 per cent annual growth in the agricultural sector during the 11th plan.
Integrated Schemes on Oilseeds, Pulses, Palm Oil and Maize (ISOPOM): A centrally sponsored Integrated Scheme of Oilseeds, Pulses, Oil Palm and Maize (ISOPOM) is being implemented in 14 major oilseed growing States to promote the cultivation of oilseeds including soya bean.
PradhanMantriFasalBimaYojana:It is a Crop Insurance Scheme in line with One Nation – One Scheme theme.

o    To provide insurance coverage and financial support to the farmers in the event of failure of the notified crop as a result of natural calamities, pests & diseases.
o    To stabilise the income of farmers for their continuance in farming.
o    To encourage farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
o    To ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector.
The government has also taken significant steps to combat under- and malnutrition over the past two decades, such as through the introduction of mid-day meals at schools, Anganwadi systems to provide rations to pregnant and lactating mothers, and subsidised grains for BPL card holders through PDS. The National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, aims food and nutritional security for vulnerable through its associated schemes and programmes, simultaneously making access to food a legal right.

There is a compelling need to operationalise the nutritional security which implies physical, economic and social access to balanced diet, safe drinking water, clean environment, and health care. Ensuring food security alone will aid in reducing hunger but will not eliminate malnutrition if other components such as safe drinking water and health care are not envisaged.

FAQ, IFAD, WFP,National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, Malnutrition in India and Public Distribution System

PradhanMantriGaribKalyan Anna Yojana
Prime Ministerhad announced the extension of the PMGKAY till the end of November 2020 to provide free food to the ration cardholders.  Around 80 crore beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act are provided an additional ration of 5 kg of wheat or rice per person and one kg of pulses per household every month. (For further information refer KSG Current Connect March).