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top 10 facts about hunger
India has struggled with inadequate food and water access over the last few decades. The country’s rapidly growing population has drawn the attention of the world, and several states and organizations have answered the call to address hunger. Following are 10 facts about hunger in India:

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in India

  1. About 15 percent of India is undernourished. This statistic may not initially seem significant, but 15% of 1.34 billion people is roughly 199 million people. To put this in perspective, 199 million people is more than half of the United States. Currently, organizations such as the Fight Hunger Foundation have begun to battle the issue, but it remains prevalent.
  2. One-third of food gets lost or wasted. According to the Indian Food Bank, 40 percent of vegetables and 30 percent of cereals produced are lost due to inefficiencies in the supply chain. New agricultural methods and the overall industrialization of India have sought to increase efficiency.
  3. Women account for 60 percent of India’s hungry population. For the last 65 years, CARE India has emerged as a leader in addressing the issue of hunger in developing areas by focusing on women’s health, education, and access to necessities. The NGO has impacted 24.1 million people directly and 85.8 million indirectly.
  4. 3,000 children die every day from hunger. Those that survive have a high chance of living with hardships in the future. Organizations like Save the Children have turned to India to help decrease this number through aid in the form of food, hygiene, and education.
  5. Around 30 percent of newborns die from lack of nutrition. The Healthy Newborn Network has started to raise awareness regarding the issue because not enough is being done to address this specific aspect of hunger. Improving prenatal care is crucial in sustaining a healthy, growing population.
  6. 21 percent of the population lives on less than $1.90 per day. $1.90 is not nearly enough to live on sustainably. Programs set up by organizations such as Global Aware allow individuals in privileged areas to help solve the problem.
  7. India ranks 97th in addressing hunger. The country’s condition is worse than many believe. Despite being an economic powerhouse, India lacks the resources to properly fix its hunger issue. Foreign aid from other nations has helped in remedying part of the problem.
  8. India is not poor, yet hunger remains an issue. India’s GDP has significantly increased over the last two decades to 2.246 trillion USD. The misplacement of resources and predetermined cultural norms, such as the caste system, have prevented the state from moving forward.
  9. The government, on many levels, has been inefficient in improving the issue. Politics have hindered progress through a lack of effective programs. Inadequate funding has resulted in significant hurdles to solve the issue, and India’s political system must be mended before any real progress can be made toward addressing hunger issues.
  10. The situation has improved. Since 2008, India has climbed five spots in the world ranking from 102 to 97. While there is still substantial room for improvement, the data show that progress is underway. The country’s ranking on the Global Hunger Index has decreased in the last two decades and could improve more given the increase in aid provided by private organizations.

These facts about hunger in India underscore the necessity of policies and programs to improve the living conditions of many of the country’s citizens. Although the country is in dire conditions, progress is being made toward a better life for India’s population.

– Mrinal Singh
Photo: Flickr

ending world hungerIt may seem crazy, but a fruit with the consistency of pulled pork, a putrid smell and a taste similar to pineapple could be one of the keys to ending world hunger. This crop, the jackfruit, can weigh up to 100 pounds and is rich in protein, potassium and vitamins.

Unfortunately, with its notorious smell, jackfruit has fallen out of favor with consumers in the nations where it most commonly grows in the wild: India and Bangladesh. In India alone, more than 75 percent of the yearly yield goes to waste.

How Is Jackfruit Ending World Hunger?

Recent cautions from the World Bank and the United Nations illustrate how inconsistent rain and soaring temperatures have already reduced wheat and corn yields, and food wars within the next decade are a possibility.

There is an upside. The crops affected most by climate change also have substantial requirements for irrigation and pesticides. The jackfruit, on the other hand, is a perennial (meaning it regrows every year on its own). While it takes up to seven years to bear fruit, which means farmers have to wait, a single tree can yield between 150 and 200 gargantuan fruits per year. It serves plenty of uses, as it can be found in soups, jams and even ice cream. People eat them fresh, dried or roasted. The wood is even rot resistant. With the fruit’s versatility and the ease with which it is cultivated, it is no surprise experts are excited about the jackfruit’s ability to aid in ending world hunger.

Who Loves Jackfruit?

There is an organization aptly called Project Jackfruit that is looking to make jackfruit as readily available as possible over the world. The project believes jackfruit’s status as a “miracle crop” is just another reason it is essential to ending world hunger. It also states that the procurement of the crop will help fight climate change, eliminate waste, feed hungry populations and provide another revenue stream for impoverished farmers in South Asia. The organization markets the fruit globally and has set up relationships with Indian farmers to scale up their production.

The Indian government has gotten on the bandwagon by launching initiatives to increase the fruit’s use in a can and as a processed food. India is fighting to destroy jackfruit’s stigma as a “poor man’s food” via marketing strategies throughout the country. It is outsourcing these projects to local universities such as the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India, which devoted two days to a conference that detailed plans to ramp up production and further market the jackfruit and its cousin, the breadfruit.

Looking Forward

Only a handful of commercial jackfruit farms are commercially viable at this point. Still, the future looks bright for the jackfruit. Governments are pushing the resilient crop in their own countries, as well as in food-insecure countries. At the University of Agricultural Sciences, a researcher referred to the fruit as a “miracle.” Combine all this effort with the rise of private investments such as Project Jackfruit, it will be no surprise if jackfruit is a primary part of the discussion behind ending world hunger.

– David Jaques

Golden Temple in India Feeds 100,000 People Per Day
Every year thousands of tourists line up to see the Taj Mahal in India, which is the most popular tourist destination in the country. In Amritsar, India, a Golden Temple serves 100,000 meals to the hungry every day, which is more people than the Taj Mahal attracts in a day.

The Sikhs believe the langar is a symbol of equality and not just a place for people to come eat for free. The kitchen needs an extensive number of ingredients each day, including 12,000 kilos of flour and 13,000 kilos of lentils. Most of the food is paid for up to two years in advance through donations.

At the langar, everyone gets a free hot meal regardless of their socioeconomic status or their religion. There are 450 people running the kitchen with the help of hundreds of volunteers. Over 300,000 plates, spoons and bowls are washed each day.

“There are only three things in our religion,” says a Sikh volunteer from California. “Chant the name of God, sing religious hymns and volunteer. I work as long as my legs allow me to stand.”

About fifteen percent of the people in India are undernourished and 194 million people are hungry. This means a quarter of the undernourished people in the world belong to India. Also, India’s population is one of the fastest growing populations in the world; it will one day become the most populous country.

More than 3,000 children in India die every day from illnesses related to poor nutrition. Hunger in India remains an alarming issue due to rising food prices and available agricultural land. While food grain production is increasing, it hasn’t been sufficient enough to feed the entire population.

Volunteering goes beyond the Golden Temple: donations from around the world help reduce hunger for thousands of people in INdia. Akshaya Patra, an NGO in India, feeds 1.4 million schoolchildren every day.

India hosts a large number of mega kitchens that feed people all over the country. Despite the rapidly growing population, the percentage of people who are undernourished and hungry is declining.

Donald Gering

Sources: Al Jazeera, Good News Network, India Food Banking, India Times, Social Progress Imperative, UNDP, WFP
Photo: SkitHub