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India struggling to feed population, states Food Sustainability Index
Saturday, 10 December, 2016, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Despite its rising economic power, India is struggling to adequately feed its population. This was stated by the 2016 Food Sustainability Index, publishedby The Economist Intelligence Unit.

The index, developed with the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) Foundation, scored India last out of 25 countries, largely because of challenges regarding inadequate nutrition and agricultural sustainability. The country’s approach to food loss and waste was, however, more positive.

Nutrition continues to be the main challenge. India has a very high prevalence of undernourishment and micronutrient deficiency, for which it is placed at the bottom and second from the bottom, respectively (after Ethiopia). About 15 per cent of the population is under-nourished, and 48 per cent of children are stunted.

India’s biggest agricultural challenge is water. Its crops and livestock are taking a heavy toll on the water system relative to other countries in the index, and the country lacks initiatives to promote water recycling. It scores joint bottom for water management, along with Egypt and Indonesia, and bottom for the environmental impact of agriculture on the water supply.

India’s performance is more positive on food waste and loss.It has one of the best scores among the 25 countriesfor per capita food waste, as well as for measures to mitigate climate change, including reforestation and its conservation programmes.

India has one of the highest rates of agricultural productivity, scoring fourth out of 25 for utilisation of available agricultural land, and it scores positively for policy responses to unhealthy diets, with the government launching a range of fitness and nutrition campaigns.

“Whilst India is one of the 25 countries with the highest rates of undernourishment and micronutrient deficiencies, which has a strong negative impact on its population’s health. The government has recently launched a number of nutritional campaigns to address this problem,” said Lucy Hurst,index research director.

“Improving nutrition across the population, and nurturing a more sustainable agriculture sector, willhelp the country meet the Sustainable Development Goals,” she added.
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