Venkaiah Naidu calls for improved nutritional security
Despite high levels of food production, it is alarming that India ranks 102nd on the Global Hunger Index and more than 80% of the country’s adolescents suffer from latent hunger, said Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Friday, speaking at the convocation of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute.He urged farm scientists to work on enhancing productivity of small and marginal farmers and develop bio-fortified and nutrient-rich crop varieties.“While the position on food front is comfortable with a total food grain production of 283.37 million tonnes, India, however, ranks 102nd in the Global Hunger Index,” said Mr. Naidu. “The alarming prevalence of malnutrition and hidden hunger are matters of grave concern. I am told that more than 80% of adolescents in India suffer from hidden hunger. This problem has to be addressed on a war footing as youth are the backbone of the nation,” he said.According to an analysis by the United Nations’ World Food Programme, food grain yields have risen 33% over the last two decades. However, there are stark inequalities in access to food, with the average per capita consumption of energy among the poorest. At least 30% of the population recorded consumption of 1,811 kilo calories per day, which is much lower than the norm of 2155 kilo calories per day. At the current rate of progress, one in three Indian children under five years will still be stunted by 2022, a sign of chronic malnutrition, the WFP report said.While the country has achieved self-sufficiency in food production, nutritional security requires measures to improve protein and vitamin deficiencies, Mr. Naidu said.The Vice President also expressed concern over the “galloping population” of the country, an issue that does not get enough attention from policy makers. “Political parties are feeling shy, politicians are feeling shy, Parliament also do not adequately discuss about the issue,” he added.
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