Hunger and Nutrition Issues – GHI, GNI, etc.

Agri-food systems need a transformative change


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: FAO

Mains level: Paper 3- Reorienting agri-food systems


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.

Challenge of malnutrition in India

  • The findings from the first round of the Fifth National Family Health Survey suggest that nutrition-related indicators have worsened in most States.
  • In addition, findings from the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (2016-18) have highlighted the role of micro-nutrient malnutrition.
  • 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.

Agri-food system: Significance and challenges it faces

  • 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).
  • A sustainable agri-food system is one in which a variety of sufficient, nutritious and safe foods are made available at an affordable price to everyone, and nobody goes hungry or suffers from any form of malnutrition.
  • However, the country’s agri-food systems are facing new and unprecedented challenges, especially related to economic and ecological sustainability, nutrition and the adoption of new agricultural technologies.
  • The edifice of India’s biosecurity remains vulnerable to disasters and extreme events.

Way forward: Reorienting agri-food systems

  • 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. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life’.
  • FAO’s support for the transformation of agri-food systems is rooted in agro-ecology.
  • The more diverse an agricultural system, the greater its ability to adapt to shocks.
  • Different combinations of integrated crop-livestock-forestry-fishery systems can help farmers produce a variety of products in the same area, at the same time or in rotation.
  • In January this year, FAO in collaboration with NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Agriculture convened a National Dialogue to evolve a framework for the transition to a more sustainable agri-food systems by 2030 and identify pathways for enhancing farmers’ income and achieving nutritional security.

Consider the question “What are the challenges facing agri-food systems in India? Suggest the pathways to transform the agri-food system to enhance farm income and ensure food and nutrition security.”


Food systems can help combat environmental degradation or climate change. Sustainable agri-food systems can deliver food security and nutrition for all, without compromising the economic, social and environmental bases.

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