1. What are the institutional measures in place to ensure food security during pandemics? Examine.
महामारी के दौरान खाद्य सुरक्षा सुनिश्चित करने के लिए संस्थागत उपाय क्या हैं? जांच करें।
Demand of the question:
It expects students to investigate and establish the key facts and issues related to institutional measures in place to ensure food security during pandemics. It also expects students to provide innovative ways and constructive solution to ensure food security.
The United Nations (UN) has warned that the world stands at the cusp of a food crisis not seen in at least 50 years and urged governments to act swiftly to avert the crisis. It also said that 820 million people in the world, or more than 10% of the world’s population, were already ‘chronically food insecure’ prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Food and Agricultural organisation estimates, even before COVID-19 Some 820 million people around the world are experiencing hunger – consuming an insufficient amount of calories (dietary energy) for a long period.
- COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated this situation by forcing the governments across the world to disrupt the global food supply chains as a containment measure.
- Informal labourers, pastoralists, children, women etc. will be hard hit by the risen food insecurity. Millions of children are already missing out on the school meals they have come to rely upon, many of them with no formal access to social protection, including health insurance.
- With respect to India, The continuing lockdowns across the country, affecting labour and input availability for agricultural operations, coupled with the stoppage of transport networks, will seriously disrupt food supplies.
- The consequent fall in rural incomes is expected to impact food demand and also the overall economic growth adversely.
Hence, there arouse the need to have a look on the institutional measures to ensure food security during pandemics:
- National Food Security Mission: It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme launched in 2007. It aims to increase production of rice, wheat, pulses, coarse cereals and commercial crops, through area expansion and productivity enhancement.
- Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana- it ensures insurance for crops against natural calamities hence, secures farmers income.
- E-marketplace: The government has created an electronic national agriculture market (eNAM) to connect all regulated wholesale produce markets through a pan-India trading portal. It will ensure farmer to sell her produce more easily during pandemics.
- The National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, legally entitles up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population to receive subsidized food grains under the Targeted Public Distribution System.
- Also on international level, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Established as a specialized agency of the UN helps eliminate hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition by promoting cooperation between different countries.
- The High-Level Task Force (HLTF) on Global Food and Nutrition Security was established by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2008. It aims to promote a comprehensive and unified response of the international community to the challenge of achieving global food and nutrition security.
- UN-SDG Goal 2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
As it seems there are adequate institutional measure in place to address food insecurity, some areas still need attention:
- Logistical problems in planting, harvesting and transporting food will leave poor countries exposed.
- The closure of schools amid lockdowns is also a part of this problem. Of the 1.6 billion young people who are currently not in school due to coronavirus, over a third of one billion are not receiving nutritious meals which are crucial to their immune systems.
- Particularly vulnerable are war-ravaged countries, already suffering from food crises and malnutrition.
- There are some NGO’s, civil society groups who worked amidst this pandemic to ensure food for needy one, utilised their own money to supply food. Hence, help in terms of monetary support to them can also ensure food security amidst pandemic.
As we have observed pandemics can cause great disruption to the global food system. To prevent a catastrophic food crisis, formulating comprehensive food security policies and creating a solidarity among Nations will ensure to strengthen institutional measures to ensure food security in pandemic.