Global Nutrition Report 2020 Analysis
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Novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic pushes government to act on reforms of food systems with urgency.
- The Global Nutrition Report 2020 stated that India is among 88 countries that are likely to miss global nutrition targets by 2025.
- The GNR is an annual publication and the first series was published in 2014.
- It is delivered by an Independent Expert Group and guided at a strategic level by a Stakeholder Group, whose members also review the Report.
- Reduce stunting by 40% in children under 5.
- Reduce the prevalence of anemia by 50% among women in the age group of 19-49 years.
- Ensure 30% reduction in low-birth weight.
- Ensure no increase in childhood overweight.
- Reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5%.
- Increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months up to at least 50%.
Food systems must be inclusive, local and diverse to address food security and malnutrition and build economic and climate resilience.
The report insisted on policy changes and financial support as critical measures to ensure food systems improve the well-being of the marginalised people.
- A food system is a composite of the environment, people, inputs, processes, infrastructures, institutions, etc. Production, processing, distribution, preparation and consumption of food are a part of food systems.
- They also include the outputs of such activities, including socio-economic and environmental outcomes.
- These components are interdependent and “collectively influence diets and broader outcomes including nutrition and health”,
- Poor health and nutrition made people vulnerable to the virus (SARS-CoV-2)
- Livelihoods, food security and the economy were stretched as reverse migration.
- Economic resilience investments in food systems, along with other targeted nutrition initiatives.
- Malnutrition is a big challenge for low- and middle- income countries where the prevalence of stunting in children below five is 40 per cent or above.
- No country is on course to meet the eight nutrition targets set globally.
- It attributed child malnutrition as the biggest risk factor keeping India from fulfilling all its child mortality rate.
- A need to recalibrate food systems away from staples like wheat and rice towards non-staples like vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts etc and make them available to people.
- “Agricultural policy is heavily biased towards improving staple-grain productivity, especially rice, wheat and maize, while dietary diversity is not adequately addressed.
- “More incentives towards millets, and non-staples will make production of healthy food attractive to producers .
- In India’s context, this will also mean mainstreaming diverse crop varieties through the public distribution system, Integrated Child Development System and mid-day-meals.
Building Economic Resilience
- Small farm holders — who usually do not have access to big value chains — will be critical in improving food systems.
- Around 80 per cent cultivators in India are small or marginal farmers who practiced rain-fed and self-subsistence agriculture,
- Incentivising and hand-holding them to transition to diverse crops may improve local value chains as better access enabled income enhancement.
- Primary and secondary level processing close to the farms that can generate local livelihoods and employment,”.
- Policy changes should be geared towards procurement of nutritious and climate-resilient crops like sorghum and millets.
- Increasing their consumption through public food distribution schemes and creating awareness on the health benefits of these crops.
Climate and Environment Sustainability
- Animal products are the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.
- Agriculture in India contributed 16 per cent of total carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.
- A significant amount of these emissions emanated from methane and nitrogen oxide that came from livestock and application of fertilisers.
- The carbon footprint swells further when emissions from storage, transport, packaging, processing, retail, preparation, and waste were calculated.
- Localised chains will ensure fresh-food delivery to improve access to healthy food among disadvantaged groups and reduce inequities in diets, according to the report.
- Experts said such value chains — that thrive on local produce — also keep prices in check and ensure affordability.
- “Investments in technology that reduce emissions through livestock need to be made.
- Healthy food systems need to be weaned away from inorganic chemical-based applications in a gradual and phased manner,”
- Climate-resilient and less water intensive crops should be incentivised and popularised among farmers and consumers alike.
- Experts point out that steps taken to address climate change spin towards better incomes and nutrition security.