- GS-2: Issues related to Health & Food Security
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Context: The first and historic United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) 2021 was held in September, 2021 to find solutions and ‘catalyse momentum’ to transform the way the world produces, consumes, and thinks about food and help address rising hunger.
Why the Food Systems Summit and what is the expectation from its outcome?
- Global food systems — the networks that are needed to produce and transform food, and ensure it reaches consumers, or the paths that food travels from production to plate — are in a state of crisis in many countries affecting the poor and the vulnerable.
- The flaws in food systems affect us all, but most of all they are affecting 811 million people in the world who go to bed hungry each night.
The debate in the summit focused on five identified action tracks namely:
- Ensure access to safe and nutritious food for all;
- Shift to sustainable consumption patterns;
- Boost nature-positive production;
- Advance equitable livelihoods
- Build resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks, and stress
Challenges for Food Security
- Climate change and unsustainable use of land and water resources are the most formidable challenges food systems face today
- Dietary diversity, nutrition, and related health outcomes are another area of concern as a focus on rice and wheat has created nutritional challenges of its own.
- It is ironic that despite being a net exporter and food surplus country at the aggregate level, India has a 50% higher prevalence of undernutrition compared to the world average.
- Reducing food wastage or loss of food is a mammoth challenge and is linked to the efficiency of the food supply chain. Food wastage in India exceeds ₹1-lakh crore.
- It is important to reiterate that hunger and food insecurity are key drivers of conflict and instability across the world. Hence, global food security is needed for global peace.
- ‘Food is peace’, is a catchphrase often used to highlight how hunger and conflict feed on each other. The Nobel Peace Prize 2020 conferred on the United Nations WFP highlighted the importance of addressing hunger to prevent conflicts and create stability.
- All stakeholders (government, civil society, academia, private players, international agencies) must collaborate to invest, innovate, and create lasting solutions in sustainable agriculture contribution to equitable livelihood, food security, and nutrition.
- Achieving the goal of “Advancing equitable livelihood” requires that the food systems transformation is anchored around small- and medium-scale production, family farmers, indigenous peoples, women, and workers in food value chains.
Connecting the dots:
- Sustainable Development Goals
- Paris Climate Accord
- National Food Security Act, 2013
- WTO and Agricultural Subsidies
- Debate around GM Food Crops