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Daily Category  (Food Security)

World Food Day

Context:

World Food Day is celebrated on 16 October every year by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

World Food Day:

  • In 1979, the Food and Agriculture Organization designated 16 October as World Food Day in 1979. 
    • Initially, World Food Day was launched to commemorate the establishment of FAO in 1945.
  • It promotes global awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure healthy diets for all.
  • In the current on-going pandemic this year, the day is celebrated with the theme – ‘Grow, nourish, sustain. Together. Our actions are our future."

Significance:

  • World Food Day creates many programs and activities to highlight and take necessary actions for food security and good nutrition for all, with a special focus on poor and vulnerable communities around the world.
  • Currently, more than 815 million people do not have enough to eat. Some 155 million children under the age of five (23 %) are chronically malnourished and stunted and may endure the effects of it for the rest of their lives. 
  • One in two infant deaths worldwide is caused by hunger.
  • It calls for global solidarity to help all populations, and especially the most vulnerable, to recover from the crisis, and to make food systems more resilient and robust so they can withstand increasing volatility and climate shocks, deliver affordable and sustainable healthy diets for all, and decent livelihoods for food system workers.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO):

  • It is a neutral intergovernmental organization established in 1945.
  • It is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.
  • Its goal is to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active healthy lives.
  • Headquarter: Rome.

Source: PIB

Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Farmers

Context:

The recently enacted law that dismantles the monopoly of APMC (agricultural produce market committee) mandis may not have faced serious farmer opposition had it included a provision safeguarding the continuance of the existing minimum support price (MSP)-based procurement regime.

What does the law say about MSP?

  • The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill does not give any statutory backing to MSP. There isn’t even a mention of either “MSP” or “procurement” in the Bill passed by both Houses of Parliament.
  • Recently, the protest by farmers over the three farm bills has a direct connection with the Minimum Support Price - Public Distribution System (MSP-PDS) regime.

Minimum Support Price (MSP):

  • MSP is a “minimum price” for any crop that the government considers as remunerative for farmers.
  • It is also the price that government agencies pay whenever they procure the particular crop.
  • The Centre currently fixes MSPs for 23 farm commodities i.e.:
    • 7 cereals: paddy, wheat, maize, bajra, jowar, ragi and barley
    • 5 pulses: chana, arhar/tur, urad, moong and masur
    • 7 oilseeds: rapeseed-mustard, groundnut, soya bean, sunflower, sesamum, safflower and nigerseed
    • 4 commercial crops: cotton, sugarcane, copra and raw jute.
  • The centre is not legally bound to pay the MSPs even if the open market rates for the said produce are ruling below their announced floor prices.

Announcement:

  • MSP is announced at the beginning of the sowing season for certain crops on recommendations by Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices(CACP) and announced by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the PM of India.

How are MSPs determined?

  • The Centre fixes MSPs for every Kharif and Rabi season based on the recommendations of the Commission of Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).
  • While calculating the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs), the CACP consider the following costs:
    • A2: Covers all cash and in-kind expenses incurred by farmers on seeds, fertilizers, chemicals, hired labour, fuel, irrigation etc.;
    • FL: Actual costs plus an imputed value of unpaid family labour; and
    • C2: Includes A2+FL along with revenues forgone on owned land (rent) and fixed capital assets (interests).

Source: Indian Express

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Context:

Parliament has passed The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The Bill replaces an Ordinance promulgated in June 2020 and amends the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.

Background:

  • The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 was used to curb inflation by allowing the Centre to enable control by state governments of trade in a wide variety of commodities.
  • The states imposed stock limits to restrict the movement of any commodity deemed essential. It helped to discourage the hoarding of items, including food commodities, such as pulses, edible oils, and vegetables.
    • However, the Economic Survey 2019-20 highlighted that government intervention under the ECA 1955 often distorted agricultural trade while being totally ineffective in curbing inflation.

Details:

  • The Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha by a voice vote, in the absence of the Opposition, which boycotted proceedings.
  • The Bill aims to remove fears among private investors of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations.
  • The bill removes cereal, pulses, oilseed, edible oil, onion, and potatoes from the list of essential commodities.
  • It ensures that the interests of consumers are safeguarded by regulating agricultural foodstuff in situations such as war, famine, extraordinary price rise, and natural calamity.
    • However, the installed capacity of a value chain participant and the export demand of an exporter will remain exempted from such regulation so as to ensure that investments in agriculture are not discouraged.

Significance:

  • The freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute, and supply will lead to harnessing economies of scale and attract private sector/foreign direct investment into the agriculture sector.
  • It will help drive up investment in cold storage and modernization of the food supply chain.
  • The government, while liberalizing the regulatory environment, has also ensured that the interests of consumers are safeguarded. It has been provided in the amendment that in situations such as war, famine, extraordinary price rise, and natural calamity, such agricultural foodstuff can be regulated.
  • This amendment prevents wastage of agricultural produce due to a lack of storage facilities.
  • With the Food Corporation of India controlling stocks before, there were less investment and buyers. Farmers often hoarded for six months to get a better price, and their products often rotted. The possibility of export will benefit farmers.”
  • The Bill ensures farm sector transformation and a stable regime while increasing farmer income, 

Source: Indian Express

More evidence of India’s food insecurity

CONTEXT OF THE NEWS

  • As per the latest data from the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report 2020 the number of people all over the world affected by hunger and all forms of malnutrition are going to increase.
  • Being home to a quarter of the world’s hungry India is not an exception and missed its target set under the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of reducing the proportion of undernourished by 2015, and the World Food Summit (WFS) target of halving the absolute number of hungry.
  • In India, as compared to 2014, there are 6.2 crore more people living in with food insecurity in 2019.

ABOUT THE REPORT

  • The report is produced jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • SOFI 2020 report presents the estimates of the extent of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition around the world. It includes a special focus on transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets.
  • It analyses the cost and affordability of healthy diets around the world, by region and in different development contexts.

INDICATORS USED IN THE REPORT

SOFI presents two key measures of food insecurity

Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU)

  • It is a conventional measure.
  • It is an estimate of the proportion of the population whose habitual food consumption is insufficient to provide the dietary energy levels required to maintain a normal active and healthy life.
  • Its estimates are based on food balance sheets and national surveys of consumption.
  • These estimates are often based on outdated data and are revised when better data become available.
  • The indicator will measure progress towards SDG Target 2.1.

Prevalence of Moderate and Severe Food Insecurity (PMSFI)

  • It is a new method.
  • It is a more comprehensive measure of the lack of access to adequate and nutritious food.
  • It is based on annual surveys that collect information on experiences of food insecurity.
  • The Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES), a gold standard in food security measurement developed by the FAO, is used by PMFSI for estimating globally comparable prevalence rates.
  • The indicator will measure progress towards SDG Target 2.1.

foodsecurity.PNGINDIA’S POSITION

  • As per the report, India has 194.6 millions undernourished people in the world.
  • The higher economic growth has not been translated into higher food consumption in India.
  • India’s situation can worsen due to Covid 19 pandemic and severe cutbacks in the Union budget on key programmes on child nutrition and mid-day meal scheme.
  • In 2014-16, 27.8% of Indian suffered from moderate or severe food insecurity. The proportion of this rose to 31.6 percent in 2017-19.
  • The number of food insecure people grew from 42.65 crore in 2014-16 to 48.86 crore in 2017-19.
  • India has 22% of the global burden of food insecurity (the highest for any country) in 2017-19.
  • In the rest of South Asia PMSFI reduced by 0.5 percentage points but for India it is increased by 3.7 percentages.

PERFORMANCE OF INDIA’s NEIGHBOURS

  • Indian neighbors like Nepal and Bangladesh have performed remarkably well.
  • Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan, too, have made progress in reducing hunger.
  • Nepal reached the MDG target and has almost reached the threshold of 5% undernourished in its population.

Other Countries

  • Asia remains home to the greatest number of undernourished (38 crores). Africa is second (25 crores), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (4.8 crores).
  • According to current estimates, in 2019, 21.3% (14.4.crore) of children under 5 years were stunted and 5.6% (3.8 million) overweight.
  • The report highlights that a healthy diet costs more than ?143 (or $1.90/ day), which is the international poverty threshold.
  • 300 crore people globally can’t afford a healthy diet (more than the combined population of the two most populous countries in the world, i.e. China and India).

MAJOR CONCERNS

  • The government of India neither conducts official FIES Surveys nor accepts estimates based on FAO-GWP surveys.
  • FAO-GWP surveys are being conducted in India but India does not allow publication of estimates based on these surveys.
  • In India, conventional measures of poverty and food consumption are not available for recent years and the main reason for this is the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) consumption expenditure survey data for 2017-18 has not been released.
  • FAO’s approach of supply wise data on per capita food availability to measure changes in average per capita calorie intake is become untenable for India because it has a large and growing disparity between the supply side data and data from the consumption surveys.
  • India’s per capita dietary energy supply has been increased by 3.8 percent but the average consumption expenditure is reduced by 3.7 percent.

CAUSES OF SUFFERING

  • Indian economy is in a deep crisis and the agrarian crisis, falling investments across sectors and shrinking employment opportunities are significantly increasing the food insecurity.
  • The unemployment rate in the present is higher than in the last four decades. Demonetization and introduction of the Goods and Services Tax can be considered the causes of economic distress during this period.
  • Due to Covid-19 and its lockdown many Indians lost their livelihood, many industries got shut down and poor faced the food insecurity, hunger and starvation.

Conclusion

India is going to witness the increase in number of food insecure people. While India is still facing the basic challenges in just accessing food, challenges are even more important in terms of accessing healthy diets. The health and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 are further deteriorating the situations. India should conduct national surveys on food insecurity to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security of different sections of the population and release the earlier reports like NSSO’s consumption expenditure survey data to get the clear picture for the solutions.

Source: The Hindu