Eliminating Hunger a Huge Challenge, Says Swaminathan

Nearly 39 per cent of children in South Asia have stunted growth and low birth weight. One in four children dies due to hunger and malnutrition. In fact, under-nourishment reduces a nation’s economic advance by 8 per cent, said M S Swaminathan, Founder-Chairman and Chief Mentor, UNESCO Chair in Eco-technology.

Learn more about the work the UN in India is doing to meet the Zero Hunger Challenge here.

While India produces enough food to feed its population, the country is home to 25 percent of the world’s hungry population.  A holistic approach to food security requires ensuring available, accessible and nutritious food to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in India.

While India produces enough food to feed its population, the country is home to 25 percent of the world’s hungry population. A holistic approach to food security requires ensuring available, accessible and nutritious food to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in India.

He was speaking on Wednesday at the inauguration of the three-day 9th NutraIndia Summit in the city, where more than 15 countries are participating. This year’s theme is ‘New Sutra for Nutra for emerging global economics’.

“Zero hunger is a key challenge that we face. There are nearly 200 districts in India where malnourishment is a major concern. We need 100 per cent access for food to all, increase in small holding productivity, zero loss or waste of food. If we achieve this, hunger can be eliminated in our lifetime,” said Swaminathan.

Like wheat revolution, focus should be given to ragi, maize, jowar and millet, he said.

Real estate growth is leading to lesser cultivable area. Raising productivity is a huge challenge and the use of technology can help bridge this gap, he felt.

“There are three major dimensions of hunger — calorie deprivation, protein deficiency and micronutrient deficiency. But there are also other food and non-food factors. Some of the challenges of the National Food Security Bill is how to provide food and nutrition for all, how to enlarge the bread basket and how to enrich crops,” he added.

Some of the challenges ahead he said are loss of food, climatic changes, shrinkage of per capita land, shortage of water resources, expansion of biotic and abiotic stresses, market conditions and getting the youth to take up farming.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao, said, “We are facing a major food shortage in the country and it is important for the nutri-sector to grow fast.”

 

Originally published 13 March 2014 by Express News Service