“Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.” – Winston Churchill
16th October marks the celebration of #WorldFoodDay as well as commemorates the foundation of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). This year, the organisation has completed #75years of its successful establishment and spreads the theme to: “Grow, nourish, sustain. Together, our actions are our future”.
The FAO primarily aims to tackle #foodshortage and revive food system across the world. It also promotes the importance to preserve food reserves globally and conducts regular activities and programmes to highlight the necessary actions for food security. Access to nutritious food is one of our #basicrights to live a healthy life. While we celebrate the success and milestones of the global food system, we must also remember that till date, over 2 billion people do not have regular access to ‘safe, nutritious and sufficient food’. Moreover, with the steady rise of hunger since 2014, there is a dire need to strengthen food system and protect people’s livelihoods.
On this auspicious day, India’s Prime Minister- Shri #NarendraModi has released the Commemorative Coin on #FoodandAgricultureOrganisation’s (FAO) 75th anniversary and World Food Day. India is the second most populous countries in the world with more than 80% of its population involved in the agricultural sector and other allied activities. In fact, India’s economy is largely dependent on its primary sector as it contributes largely in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). On the #GlobalHungerIndex, India has one of the worst hunger situations with almost 44% children under the age of 5 as underweight and more than half of the women suffering from anaemia. The 2011 census also revealed the wide inequalities and health disparity between the Indian states. States like- Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar are leading the country with highest malnutrition rates. With more than half of the rural residents living below poverty line, access to regular food and healthcare services are highly challenging.
The unexpected circumstances of the COVID-19 have posed bigger challenges to the food system. With every one out five people living in hunger, the pandemic could add between 83-132 million to the existing numbers. Given the low economic growth of India, COVID-19 has highlighted multiple dimensions of India’s food challenges. India also ranks first and second in the production of pulses and grains respectively in the world. Nevertheless, the impact of #malnutrition is found in forms like undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight and obesity.
In regard to World Food Day 2020, the FAO expressed the need for ‘#globalsolidarity’ to help all population to recover from the crisis and build a robust and resilient food system. ‘#Digitalization’ and ‘#E-Commerce’ can propel the speed of ‘sustainable agricultural practises’ across the globe. FAO also urged everyone to celebrate the importance and role played by the #Foodheroes who ‘produce, plant, harvest, fish or transport our food’.
Apart from the constant fear of being ‘COVID positive’, 2020 has contributed in other ‘climate related shocks’ in India’s agricultural sector, like- locust attacks, floods and cyclones. Though such climatic challenges are difficult to control, it is always possible to ensure the ‘Food system’ by ensuring affordable and healthy diets for all; maintaining decent livelihoods and preserving natural resources. ‘#WorldFoodDay’ can be celebrated in its entirety only when we can successfully ensure that every individual has regular access to three or more meals a day. Till then, let us support, donate, eat and live well.
– Arishmita Aditya
Picture credits: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.