‘Zero Hunger Villages Should be the Goal’

The New Indian Express | 19 March 2015 – All the talk of food and nutritional security will need to have at the forefront, a broad but vital goal of establishing ‘zero-hunger’ villages. M S Swaminathan, Chairman and Chief Mentor of the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation made the argument that the establishment of such villages should be one of the top goals of any food security policy.

Prof. M S Swaminathan at the conference. Photo: A RAJA CHIDAMBARAM

Prof. M S Swaminathan (left) at CII. Photo: A RAJA CHIDAMBARAM

“We have begun talking about smart villages, smart cities. I would like to suggest that we need to begin looking to achieve Zero-Hunger villages, we can even call them smart villages if you want,” said Swaminathan at a CII [Conference of Indian Industry] conference on nutrition and food security.

The major challenges in establishing what has been a dream of nation building since the time of Mahatma Gandhi, according to him, would hinge on providing basic food and nutritional security to all. “We will need to effectively address rampant under nutrition, protein hunger, vitamin hunger and most importantly clean drinking water, which becomes a very important aspect when you talk about nutrition,” he said.

Swaminathan also said that achieving such a goal would need a mindset change in policy making – from ‘ship to mouth’ to ‘right to food’.

The method in which food security has been addressed till now, that of giving people food, had to change to giving them a right to food and nutrition.

Technology and its applications have already made the implementation of such measures possible, he pointed out, listing out several of MSSRF’s initiatives that included technology – especially its fisherman friend application.

“These things are transformational technologies,” he said. Deficiencies in the food system like the lack of modern storage systems, climate change and development of temperature resistant crops and the dangers of sea rise and coastal prosperity are all challenges, according to him. “