India ranks 101st out of 116 countries on the 2021 Global Hunger Index rankings, with a score of 27.5, which GHI considers “serious.” Currently, there are many hunger-fighting initiatives in India. The five government implemented hunger-fighting initiatives in India include the National Nutrition Mission (NNM), National Food Security Mission, Zero Hunger Programme, Eat Right India Movement and efforts toward food fortification.
National Nutrition Mission
India’s Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, launched the National Nutrition Mission (NNM) or the POSHAN Abhiyaan, on International Women’s Day 2018. NNM targets children, pregnant women and lactating mothers, aiming to reduce stunting, undernutrition, anemia and low birth weight babies. It uses Lives Saved Tool, also known as LiST, to gather results on increased interventions of maternal, newborn and child health, and nutrition.
National Food Security Mission
In 2007, the National Development Council launched the National Food Security Mission. By the end of the 11th Five Year Plan (2011 – 2012), production of rice had successfully increased to the projected “10 million tons, wheat to 8 million tons and pulses to 2 million tons.” The 12th Five Year Plan was even more successful, with a target of 25 million tons of food grain from 2017 to 2020.
The National Food Security Mission implemented eight strategies to accomplish its objectives. Those strategies are to:
- Place focus on districts with low production and significant potential
- Establish cropping system-centric inventions
- Inherit “agro-climatic zone wise planning and cluster approach for crop productivity enhancement”
- Increase focus on annual crop (pulses) production and grow them with diverse crops
- “Promote and extend improved technologies i.e., seed, integrated nutrient management (INM), integrated pest management (IPM), input use efficiency and resource conservation technologies along with the capacity building of the farmers/extension functionaries”
- “Closely monitor the flow of funds to ensure timely reach of interventions to the target beneficiaries”
- Combine multiple interventions and the goals of each district and its plans
- “Implement agencies for assessing the impact of the interventions for a result-oriented approach”
Zero Hunger Programme
The Zero Hunger Programme in India began in 2017 to improve agriculture, health and nutrition. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the Indian Council of Medical Research, the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation and the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) created it. The program focuses on developing farm equipment, revamping the farming system, setting up genetic gardens for biofortified plants and beginning zero hunger training. In India, most farmers do not have an adequate amount of land to support their families plus the growing population. Without proper storage available, transportation and marketing places, most food goes to waste. The Zero Hunger Programme aims to:
- Decrease child stunting for children 2 years and younger
- Ensure access to food all year round
- Create stable food systems
- Increase small farmer productivity and income
- Eliminate food waste
Eat Right India Movement
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India started the Eat Right India movement to ensure that the Indian population has access to food that is healthy and safe. The program stands on the foundation of regulatory capacity building, collaborative and empowerment approach.
Overall, the purpose of the Eat Right India Movement is to encourage communities to eat healthy, safe and sustainably. It aims to help all age groups since diet-related illnesses affect everyone if their eating habits are poor. With this common ground, the movement is banding with restaurants, agriculture, food producers, ministries and professional cooks to ensure change.
Eating low-quality food can cause malnourishment and anemia. Both are present in children and women of the Indian community. In efforts to lower the extent of malnutrition and anemia, food fortification has been a common practice in India since the 1950s. Food fortification is a process of nutrient supplementation chemically, biologically or physically. Fortified food can include rice, wheat flour, edible oil, salt and milk.
Unfortunately, low-income women and children never consume 40%-60% of fortified food. This is due to some states’ failure to purchase fortified food, information disclosure in public supply chains and a shortage of distribution channels in rural areas.
All five hunger-fighting initiatives in India are working towards the goal of combating hunger. Though some have met their targets, the fight is still ongoing. Incorporating more nutrients in daily diets could save many from hunger and diseases. With that, the government recognizes the severities and has established initiatives to address the problem.
– Destiny Jackson