For better production, nutrition, the environment, and life, agri-food systems require a paradigm shift. Elucidate
The agro-food system comprises all those activities related to the production, processing, distribution, sale, preparation and consumption of food, and the regulatory apparatus governing these arrangements
- The health of a country’s agri-food systems determines the health of its people. The findings from the first round of the Fifth National Family Health Survey suggest that nutrition-related indicators have worsened in most States. The survey covers 17 States and five Union Territories, which comprise 54% of India’s population. In addition, findings from the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (2016-18) have highlighted the role of micro-nutrient malnutrition.
- The agri-food systems are the most important part of the Indian economy. India produces sufficient food, feed and fibre to sustain about 18% of the world’s population (as of 2020). Agriculture contributes about 16.5% to India’s GDP and employs 42.3% of the workforce (2019-20).
- Global food systems refer to the networks that are required to produce, transform, and distribute food to consumers, as well as the routes that food takes from farm to plate.
- Many countries’ food systems are in a state of crisis, impacting the poor and vulnerable.
- In terms of bigger goals, the transformation of the food system is seen as critical to accomplishing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
- This makes sense because the food system is intimately tied to 11 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- Nutrition and food diversity: A emphasis on rice and wheat has caused nutritional issues, as has dietary diversity, nutrition, and related health outcomes. India has decided to add iron to rice distributed under the Public Distribution System (PDS).
- Low nutrition: India, while being a net exporter and a food surplus country overall, has a 50% higher prevalence of undernutrition than the global norm. However, the percentage of people who are undernourished has decreased from 21.6 percent in 2004-06 to 15.4 percent in 2018-20.
- Food wastage: Reducing food wastage is a huge challenge that is tied to the food supply chain’s efficiency. Food waste in India is estimated to be in the billions of rupees.
Why the need to change
- There is an urgent need for reorientation of the long-term direction of agri-food systems to not only enhance farm incomes but also ensure better access to safe and nutritious foods. Additionally, the agri-food systems need to be reoriented to minimise cost on the environment and the climate. This need is recognised by the theme of World Food Day 2021: ‘Our actions are our future.
- Due to employment losses and logistical challenges during Covid, India’s hunger and nutrition shortage crisis has worsened.
- India’s biosecurity remains sensitive to disasters and catastrophic occurrences as a result of climate change.
- Although the Green Revolution has resulted in substantial advances in the country’s agricultural development, it has also resulted in water logging, soil erosion, groundwater depletion, and agriculture’s unsustainable nature.
- Policies in Place: Current policies are still founded on the 1960s deficit mentality. Rice and wheat are favoured in procurement, subsidies, and water policy. Rice, wheat, and sugarcane account for 75 to 80 percent of all irrigated water.
- Malnutrition: According to the NFHS-5, undernutrition has not decreased in many states in 2019-20. Obesity, on the other hand, is on the rise. Dietary guidelines from the EAT-Lancet for rural India cost between USD 3 and USD 5 per person per day. Actual nutritional intake, on the other hand, is roughly USD 1 per person per day.
- Agricultural technologies—in order to boost production and reduce agri-losses, outdated and outmoded technology must be replaced.
What should be done
- A structural shift in dietary pattern and nutrition requires a shift in production. Pathways for nutritional security consist of improving dietary diversity, kitchen gardens, reducing post-harvest losses, making safety net programmes more nutrition-sensitive, women’s empowerment, enforcement of standards and regulations, improving Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, nutrition education, and effective use of digital technology.
- Farmers can produce a range of goods in the same place, at the same time, or in rotation using various combinations of integrated crop-livestock-forestry-fishery systems.
- Post-harvest losses must be kept to a minimum.
- By cultivating safe and nutritious food crops, the agri-food system should not only increase farm earnings but also ensure dietary diversity.
- Crop Diversification: For more equitable water distribution, sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture, crop diversification toward millets, pulses, oilseeds, and horticulture is required.
- Institutional Changes in the Agri-Sector: Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) should assist small farmers in obtaining better prices for inputs and outputs.Small farmers can profit from technology like E-Choupal. Women’s empowerment is critical in rising incomes and improving nutrition. Cooperatives and clubs for women, such as Kudumbashree in Kerala, might be beneficial.
- Food systems that are sustainable: The food sector is estimated to emit roughly 30% of the world’s greenhouse gases. Production, value chains, and consumption all need to be sustainable.
- Health Infrastructure and Social Protection: The Covid-19 outbreak has exposed India’s inadequate health infrastructure, particularly in rural areas and a few areas. Strong social protection programmes are also required for inclusive food systems. India has a lot of experience with these types of programmes. Strengthening India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Public Distribution System (PDS), and nutrition programmes such as the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and Mid-Day Meal programmes can help the poor and vulnerable improve their income, livelihoods, and nutrition.
- Non-Agriculture Sector: Non-agriculture has an equally vital part in the development of sustainable food systems. Because agriculture does not provide enough revenue for small farmers and informal labourers, labor-intensive industry and services can help alleviate the pressure on agriculture. As a result, one component of the solution is to boost rural Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and food processing.
- Collaboration: We must work together to invest, innovate, and develop long-term sustainable agriculture solutions that contribute to equitable livelihood, food security, and nutrition.
- Water awareness, sanitation and hygiene, and nutrition education are all important.
- Use of modern technology to its full potential.
- India has a lot to contribute in terms of learning from its triumphs and preparing for the next 20 to 30 years. The food system must be reimagined with the goals of balancing growth and sustainability, mitigating climate change, ensuring healthy, safe, high-quality, and affordable food, preserving biodiversity, improving resilience, and providing an appealing income and work environment for smallholders and youth.
In September 2021, the United Nations Secretary-General will host the Food Systems Summit, which aims to revolutionise global food systems in order to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. It is an excellent opportunity to strengthen policies aimed at reaching the SDGs. Science and technology are critical to achieving these objectives. India should also strive for a food system change that is both inclusive and long-term, ensuring rising agricultural incomes and food security.
FAO, in collaboration with NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Agriculture, held a national dialogue on the transition to more sustainable agri-food systems by 2030, with the goal of increasing farmers’ income and ensuring food security. FAO is also working with the Indian government to mainstream agrobiodiversity, green agriculture, promote nutrition-sensitive agriculture, and increase national food security.
How to structure:
- Give a brief intro on what agri-food systems mean
- Explain why there is a need a change in its focus for better production, nutrition and environment- list out the issues and give examples
- Propose solutions-long term and sustainable ones
agricultural food systems are considered as the interactions and participants of the food value chain such as fisheries, livestock, aquaculture and preparation of foods for consumption and disposal.
India stand sixth position in the world fisheries production. because many of the fisheries are getting lesser due to environmental pollution such as water pollution, oil spills, algal blooms. in which they cant survive in the water with these pollution.
Fisheries do eat the phytoplanktons as the food. but to some anthroponogic factors it has basic level of aquatic ecosystem plankons are getting reduced. so the nutrition of the small fishes also reduced hence it affects the subsequent food chain. so lack of food causes lack of nutrition in fisheries. recently amery ice shelf, oil spills at the kara sea causes damage to fishes.
Due to some of geo thermal pollution the fishes are getting moved to one environment to other environment. recently orange mahseer fishes have been found in cauvery delta gets migrated to bay of bengal and they are critically endangered as per IUCN.
To increase the production, ex situ conservation of the fisheries is necessary which is fresh water fishes to be grown seperately out of their habitat. so ultimately they wont face any kind of pollution risks and the breeding takes place rapidly and the production increases.
The other reason is lack of food, government launches blue revolution to improve the fishery sector for fish brood banks, hatcheries , construction of ponds. government procures the availablility of food for the fisheries through kisan credit card scheme.
government takes several steps to conserve the fisheries through coastal regulation zone and many other steps. no oil spills to conserve the environment , conserve the most threatened species of fishes avoiding mal nutrition to fishes such as microplastics cause heavy damages to fishes near ganga basin.
government is taking effective steps to conserve the agri food systems trying to impove the sector though the environmental factors and anthroponigenic factors causes damage. goverment should first concentrate in core areas of agri food systems.