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How Covid-19 pandemic has complicated India's fight against hunger

Oct 16, 2020 10:06 IST

This year marks the 75th anniversary of United Nation's World Food Day, and, as countries continue to grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic, the realization of access to safe and nutritious food for all has become more acute. India, which is one of the biggest food producers in the world, ironically is also home to the largest population of hungry people. Despite astounding industrial and economic growth, particularly after the liberalization in early 1990s, India has a grim rating of 102 among 117 nations on the Global Hunger Index. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 14% of India's population or 189.2 mn people are undernourished. The global agriculture body notes that in India 34.7% of children under the age of five are stunted or too short for their age and 20% weigh too low for their height. The hunger isn’t due to lack of food but astonishingly due to the wastage of food. Hard to believe is the fact that nearly one-third of the food produced in the world gets wasted every year. In India 40% of fruits and vegetables and 30% of cereals produced for consumption are lost due to ineffective supply chain management each year. Starvation accounts for most deaths in the world after cancer and AIDS. In India alone, 7,000 people die every day of hunger and 25 lakhs die every year. As Covid-19 pandemic continues to alter our lifestyles, the fight against hunger has lost steam. A nationwide lockdown announced in March to curb the deadly virus brought India's already fragile and fragmented food supply chain to a screeching halt for months. With labour shortage, logistical constraints and partial lockdowns amplifying the already strained food market and the poverty-stricken farmers, hunger remains one of the biggest problem amid the pandemic in world’s largest food producing nation.

Food