Ending malnourishment by diversifying food consumption.  Background:

    • The prime minister announced in his Mann Ki Baat address that September is to be observed as ‘Rashtriya Poshan Mah’
    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to support the government’s nutrition campaign to ensure a healthier future for women and children. 
  • He said that both poor and affluent families are affected by malnutrition due to lack of awareness.
Government initiative to achieve #ZeroHunger World’.
  • Concerted efforts by the government have led to a decline in malnutrition by two percentage points per annum. 
  • Poshan Abhiyaan, India’s flagship program to improve nutritional outcomes for children, adolescents, pregnant women, and lactating mothers, is an amalgamation of scientific principles, political fortitude and technical ingenuity.
  • Poshan Abhiyan is the key nutrition interventions and strategies, which form the core of it, contribute to the targets of the World Health Assembly for nutrition and Sustainable Development Goals, particularly the goal of “zero hunger”.
  • Achieving zero hunger requires not only addressing hunger, but also the associated aspect of malnutrition
 India’s dismal performance in achieving the stated objective of elimination of malnourishment:
  • According to the 2017 Global Burden of Disease Study by the University of Washington, malnutrition is among the leading causes of death and disability in India.
  •  The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 194.4 million people in India, about 14.5% of the total population, are undernourished
  • The Global Hunger Index 2018 ranks India 103 out of 119 countries on the basis of three leading indicators: 
  • The prevalence of wasting and stunting in children under five years of age, 
  • Child mortality rate under five years of age.
  • The proportion of undernourished in the population.
The government needs to pay attention  to the following pattern in ending malnourishment:
  • Consumption patterns
  • Healthy diets are an integral element of food and nutrition security. 
  • Food consumption patterns have changed substantially in India over the past few decades.
  • This has resulted in the disappearance of many nutritious native foods such as millets. 
  • For long, the agriculture sector focused on increasing food production, particularly staples.
  • This has led to lower production and consumption of indigenous traditional crops/grains, fruits, and other vegetables.
  • Hence, impacting food and nutrition security in the process. 
  • Food monotony increases the risk of micronutrient deficiency.
  • FAO’s work has demonstrated that dependence on a few crops has negative consequences for ecosystems, food diversity and health
  • Agricultural biodiversity
    • Overreliance on a few staple crops coupled with low dietary diversity is a leading cause of persistent malnutrition. 
    • Intensive, monoculture agricultural practices can perpetuate the food and nutrition security problem.
  • Monoculture degrades the quality of land, water and the food derived through them
  • The loss of globally significant species and genetic diversity has an adverse impact on diets.
    • The government must enable increasing choices of food so that they can make appropriate choices.
  • Urban food planning needs to incorporate nutritional security and climate resilience.
  • Small farmers, livestock and seed keepers in India are on the front-line of conserving the unique agrobiodiversity of the country.
Also read: Food Processing Industries The Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey