- Food security implies that ‘all people, at all times, should have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life’ (FAO).
- Nutrition security goes beyond food security. Nutrition security is achieved ‘when all people at all times consume food of sufficient quantity and quality in terms of variety, diversity, nutrient content and safety to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life, coupled with a sanitary environment, adequate health, education and care’ (FAO).
Causes of food and nutrition insecurity
- Food security and nutrition are closely interlinked. The causes of food and nutrition insecurity are complex, interconnected, and derive from structural and economic constraints.
- Poverty is the root cause of nutrition insecurity.
- Lack of access to education, affordable housing, and healthcare,transportation, employment, and living wages can impact a household’s ability to access adequate and nutritious food.
Achieving food and nutrition security
- Sustainable Agriculture Practices:
- This involves promoting sustainable farming practices that enhance agricultural productivity while minimising environmental impact.
- It also includes adopting agroecological approaches, organic farming, conservation agriculture, and precision farming techniques.
- Implementing sustainable agriculture practices helps increase crop yields, conserve natural resources, and preserve ecosystem health.
- Diversification of Food Production:
- This includes promoting traditional and underutilised crops, horticulture, agroforestry, and aquaculture.
- Diversification enhances dietary diversity, improves nutritional intake, and reduces dependence on a few staple crops.
- Enhancing Access to Inputs and Technologies:
- Facilitating access to quality seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, and modern agricultural technologies. This includes promoting the development and dissemination of improved crop varieties, resilient seeds, and appropriate technologies for smallholder farmers.
- Access to quality inputs and technologies enhances agricultural productivity and supports sustainable farming practices.
- Social Protection Programmes:
- It includes implementing targeted social protection programmes to address immediate food needs and reduce vulnerability. This includes programmes such as subsidised food distribution, school feeding programmes, conditional cash transfers, and public works programmes.
- Social protection programmes provide temporary relief and enhance the purchasing power of vulnerable households.
- Nutrition Education and Behaviour Change:
- This implies promoting nutrition education and behaviour change communication to improve household dietary practices. Further, raising awareness about the importance of diverse and nutritious diets, promoting breastfeeding, hygiene, and sanitation practices, and addressing cultural and social norms related to food and nutrition.
- Nutrition education empowers individuals to make informed choices and adopt healthier dietary behaviours.
- Strengthening Health and Nutrition Services:
- This refers to enhancing access to quality health and nutrition services, particularly for women, children, and vulnerable groups.
- This includes improving antenatal and postnatal care, promoting breastfeeding practices, providing micronutrient supplementation, and addressing malnutrition through community-based nutrition programmes.
- Research and Innovation:
- It involves investing in research and innovation to generate knowledge, develop technologies, and address emerging challenges in food and nutrition security.
- Research and innovation drive evidence-based decision making and enable the development of context specific solutions.
- It also requires a coordinated effort involving government institutions, civil society organisations, research institutions, private sector actors, and communities to create an enabling environment and implement effective interventions.
- Food Fortification:
- Food fortification is a strategy aimed at enhancing the nutritional value of food by adding essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
- Promoting household food and nutrition security is a multifaceted endeavour that requires concerted efforts from various stakeholders.
- It involves addressing factors such as availability, accessibility, utilisation, and stability of food, as well as ensuring nutritional adequacy and dietary diversity.
- By combining targeted interventions, sustainable agricultural practices, social protection measures, and policy support, these programmes have the potential to significantly improve the well-being and livelihoods of millions of households in India.