India currently relies on the self-sufficiency model for food supply to the vast Indian population and that will not be enough to meet nutrient needs of the population in future. India's self-sufficiency model, i.e. increasing domestic crop yield and reducing food waste is clearly not enough, indicate researchers from the University of Edinburgh exploring the entire food system in India.
‘Relying on traditional forms of food production will not help India overcome the dietary crisis looming large amidst its rising population. India needs to increase international trade, allow more food imports, develop food processing and fortification of food to make sure all Indians are adequately nourished.’
India's self-sufficiency model for securing food, which relies on increase in domestic crop yield and reduction of waste will be insufficient to meet nutritional needs, given India's rising population, the results indicate.
For the first time a research of this kind maps the entire Indian food system—right from crop production to availability in households, exploring in detail levels of calories, protein, fat and micronutrients.
Results indicate an increase in population together with environmental and dietary pressures can be a sure signal to predict nutritional shortages among 60 per cent of the Indian population.
Lead researcher Hannah Ritchie of the University of Edinburgh's School of Geosciences said: "Our analysis suggests that India's current agricultural policies will be insufficient to fully address malnutrition. To meet the UN goal of zero hunger by 2030, India will need to adopt intervention strategies that encourage dietary diversification and boost micronutrient availability."
The team of researchers suggest a combination of strategies to enable India meet the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of zero hunger by the year 2030. Optimising domestic production in India and increasing trade links could avoid the impending dietary crisis in India.
How Serious is the 'Hidden Hunger' in India?
A recent estimate shows more than two billion people around the world suffer from micronutrient deficiencies, and close to half of them live in India.
Hidden hunger is the deficiency that occurs when there is a serious deficit in the intake of essential vitamins and minerals
. It becomes a matter a concern when the intake falls below the levels needed for children to grow and develop and for adults to be ale to function normally.
The research observes that health and productivity costs of micronutrient deficiencies could result in severe economic losses to the tune of 2.4 per cent of India's gross domestic product.
Further, India is one of the most at-risk nations for climate change impacts, in addition to water scarcity and fast declining soil fertility resulting from degradation of land —all of which could add to the future deficit in food production. Despite improvement in crop yields, it will not be able to feed the increasing Indian population by 2030, results indicate.
Hence the urgent need in India to diversify from traditional forms of food production to make all nutrients available for all Indians for adequate nourishment.
New Strategies to Overcome Nutritional Shortage
In order to increase the production and supply of dietary energy, protein and micronutrients a nationwide programme to optimise crop selection is urgently needed.
India also has to increase its international agricultural trade and this involves lifting restrictions on food imports, to diversify, improve and safeguard food supplies, suggest the researchers. The analysis was made on the domestic capacity of India's food system to make projections for 2030 and 2050.