Eleminate Hunger

Eleminate hunger

India has relatively high rates of hunger compared with the rest of the world with some 200 million people suffering from it. However, malnutrition is not uniform throughout the country, and its prevalence corresponds to the uneven levels of economic development between different regions. We are in the process to assess India’s progress toward achieving zero hunger by 2030 – a sustainable development goal established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. Since the late 1960s, India has made considerable progress in reducing hunger in terms of calories, but many people remain undernourished, and now the country is also facing rising rates of obesity. This is due to government policies that boosted staple grains, like wheat and rice, which helped meet people’s caloric needs but are now inhibiting the production of more diverse and nutritious foods. In the economically lagging and less agriculturally productive states of central and eastern India, 63% of dietary calories come from cereal grains. This leads to stunting and wasting of bodies due to nutrient deficiencies in diets, especially for the impoverished. In contrast, in the more developed and more agriculturally productive states of north western and southern India, access to processed foods and edible fats have had the opposite effect. In the last 10 years, the rate of obesity doubled for men and increased by 62% for women, bringing with it a rise in diabetes and heart disease. Enhancing agricultural productivity is particularly important in the lagging states. As the report notes, states that failed to invest in agriculture during the Green Revolution of the 1960s were left with weak agricultural sectors and high levels of poverty. Since the lagging states are unlikely to match the productivity of staple-grain agriculture in developed states, the researchers recommend focusing efforts on adding more diverse crops like pulses, coarse grains, fruits and vegetables. With investment from the public and private sectors, farmers could take advantage of the growing demand for these crops, which can be sold at higher prices than staple crops.