From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : SDGs
Mains level : Paper 3- Climate change and its implications for hunger
The article suggests pathways to achieve SDG-2 by the adoption of climate-friendly agriculture practices.
Food and SDG
- Food is a common thread linking all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and critical to achieving overall goals within the timeframe.
- NITI Aayog recently released the SDG India Index 2020-21, highlighting the national and states’ progress on SDGs.
- The report states that 34.7% children aged under five in India are stunted.
- 40.5% of children between 6-59 months are anaemic.
- 50.3% of pregnant women between 15-49 years are anaemic.
- India shares a quarter of the global hunger burden.
- Four out of 10 children in India are not meeting their full human potential because of chronic undernutrition or stunting.
- NFHS-5 shows many states have not fared well on nutrition indicators.
- In addition to the malnutrition challenges, India’s food system faces negative consequences of the Green Revolution technologies.
Pathways to follow in meeting the targets under SDG-2 (Zero Hunger)
- Crop diversification especially in those areas where the existing practices are ecologically unsustainable should be promoted.
- While Indian agriculture is a significant contributor to GHG emissions.
- As per third Biennial Update Report submitted by Government of India to UNFCCC, agriculture sector contributes 14% of the total emissions.
- Some of the climate-smart interventions like conservation agriculture, organic farming and agro-ecological approaches can effectively address the environmental concerns while ensuring food security and nutrition.
- Crop-residue burning has become a huge problem in parts of the country.
- This is mainly propelled by monoculture and a package of subsidies.
- Conservation agriculture offers solutions to such problems with good agronomy and soil management such as zero-tillage or no-till farming, crop rotation, in-situ crop harvest residue management/mulching, etc, and industrial uses like baling and bio-fuel production.
- Use of botanical pesticides, green-manuring, biological pest control, etc. are nature-friendly and such practices lead to eco-conservation.
- The organic movement, fortunately, is catching up in Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, and a few other states.
- Modifying consumer behaviour forms an essential ingredient to transform Indian food systems and correlate positively with crop and diet diversity.
- POSHAN Abhiyaan, India’s national nutrition mission, can play an effective role in addressing the issues of persistent malnutrition.
- According to FAO estimates, 40% of the food produced in India is either lost or wasted in every stage of supply chain.
- Winning the fight against food loss and waste can save India $61 billion in 2050 through increased industry profitability and reduced food insecurity, as well as reduced GHG emissions, water usage, and environmental degradation.
- Shifting towards a circular economy can enable India progress towards the SDGs including halving food waste by 2030 and improving resource efficiency.
India’s success is essential to achieve the planetary goal of Zero Hunger. There is a need for transformation towards sustainable, nutritious and resilient food systems to achieve the goal of zero hunger.