Food Systems Transformation cover

Vol no. 21 Issue No. 147

Expert Panel

P S Goel

Raja Ramanna Chair Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore

B Meenakumari

Former Chairperson, National Biodiversity Authority, Chennai.

Rasik Ravindra

Geologist and Secretary General, 36 IGC, New Delhi.

Victor Smetacek

Prof Emeritus, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar & Marine Research, Germany

K J Ramesh

Former Director General, India Meteorological Department (IMD), New Delhi.

Saraswati Raju

Former Professor, CSRD, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Ajit Tyagi

Air Vice Marshal (Retd) Former DG, India Meteorological Department (IMD), New Delhi

Inside this issue

Rebuilding food systems

Role of research and innovation in transforming food systems in South Asia

By: Nafees Meah, Ranjitha Puskur

Food systems are at the heart of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, the current food system in South Asia is dysfunctional and needs transformation to deliver benefits to people and the planet. Achieving this requires both an evidence base for radical new policies and the adoption of innovations across the food value chain at scale.

Scaling up climate-resilient agriculture in South Asia

By: Rasheed Sulaiman V

Farmers need support to adapt to the changing climate in South Asia, which has been adversely affecting agricultural production year after year. Extension and advisory services (EAS) can play a critical role in scaling up climate-resilient agriculture. However, their capacities to support farmers in adapting to climate change need to be substantially enhanced.

Gender equity and food system transformation

By: Vidya Vemireddy

Women’s contribution is immense throughout the rapidly transforming food systems—right from production to providing nutrition. Existing research suggests that inequity within the food systems operates through differentiated access to land, labour, capital, information and technology between men and women. As a way forward, several strategies such as providing access to land, extension services and group membership to reduce inequities within the food systems is suggested, with nuanced context-based research and gender-specific metrics in policy and programme designs.

Biofortification of crops in India for food and nutritional security

By: D K Yadava, F Hossain, P R Choudhury, T R Sharma, T Mohapatra

Malnutrition, caused by inadequate intake of balanced food, affects people of all ages including infants, children, adults, women and old-age people. Biofortification is a process of developing nutrient-rich crops through breeding approaches that provide sustainable and cost-effective solutions to alleviate malnutrition. The National Agricultural Research System (NARS) led by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has developed a series of biofortified crop varieties through breeding methods that have a balanced concentration of nutrients, are high yielding and ideal for meeting the country's food and nutritional security. Here, we discuss available biofortified crop cultivars for cultivation, effects of biofortified crops on human health and various challenges for the popularisation of these nutritionally rich crops cultivars in India.

Food safety at the heart of food system transformation

By: Pawan Agarwal

Unsafe food does not nourish, it harms. Food cannot be considered nutritious if it is not safe. Harmful effects of unsafe food would make it impossible to achieve desired nutrition objectives. Thus, food, if not safe, is not food. While this argument may seem straightforward, given the paucity of evidence and data on foodborne illnesses, food safety receives little attention. It only comes into focus during major outbreaks of foodborne diseases (FBD) causing death, scandals involving deliberate food adulteration, trade bans or widespread consignment rejection due to noncompliance to standards of importing countries. The fact is food safety is a serious public health concern and is central to building a nation’s health.

Export specialisation and India's agricultural transformation

By: Elumalai Kannan, Anjani Kumar

This paper examines whether export specialisation is a catalyst for agricultural transformation in India. Analysis has shown that India’s export of agricultural products has increased from 1.35 per cent in 2001 to 2.61 in 2019 and there is a significant agricultural trade surplus generated over time. Two products—rice and crustaceans accounted for nearly one-third of export value in 2017-2019 with a little change in export composition. Export specialisation indices broadly confirm these patterns. Results indicate that agricultural transformation led by export specialisation will remain stunted in the near future. The policy should aim at diversification of agricultural export basket through product-specific focus, based on export demand and exploration of new markets.

Non-bovine milk for better nutrition in disadvantaged regions

By: PK Rout, M Verma

Non-bovine milk can play a key role in achieving the UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and its 17 inter-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in South Asia. Milk from goat, camel and yak provides nutritional security in disadvantaged geographical regions and traditional non-bovine milk products contribute towards the management of chronic diseases. Significantly, South Asia leads in the production of goat milk, marking its cultural acceptance. Non-bovine milk offers diverse nutritional components that need to be analysed for future nutraceutical development and for the formulation of health products.

In conversation with

Prof Ramesh Chand | Moving from ‘grow more’ to ‘growth plus’

By: Staff Reporter

Prof Ramesh Chand, Member, NITI Ayog, speaking with Sulagna Chattopadhyay, discusses a vision of how India’s agriculture needs to transform with proactive as well as stringent regulations.

Prof Saleemul Huq | Thinking Differently, Smartly and with great Agility | Transforming Agriculture

By: Staff Reporter

Prof Saleemul Huq, Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development, Independent University, Bangladesh, Dhaka and lead author of IPCC Sixth Assessment Report speaking with Sulagna Chattopadhyay shares a vision of how climate change provides multiple opportunities for adaptation and ushers in an era of new thinking.

In brief

The Food Systems Summit

A first-ever initiative by the United Nations (UN), a Food Systems Summit is being convened in September 2021 in an attempt to launch ‘bold new actions’ that delivers progress on 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Looking to usher in healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems,

Editor's Note

To think differently Agriculture, even today, is central to India as indeed to the economy of South Asia. However, the sector’s increasing ecological footprint on natural resources, extreme dependence on a limited food basket and issues related to nutrient loading, pollution and food safety are r

Guest Editor's Note

Transforming South Asia’s Food Systems Food systems are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development because they engage food security and human nutrition, ecosystem services, climate change mitigation and adaptation and rural prosperity. However, the current food system in South A

Term Power

What is ...

It is the second Sustainable Development Goal, set by the United Nations in 2015 that aims to provide food and humanitarian relief to the most at-risk regions. A profound change in the global food and agriculture system is needed to achieve this. Increasing agricultural productivity and sustainable food production is crucial to help alleviate the perils of hunger.

This can be defined as a process to increase the bioavailability and the concentration of nutrients in crops through both conventional plant breeding and recombinant DNA technology (genetic engineering).

Brix measurement can be taken in a hand-held device that determines pure sucrose content in water. The Brix scale is used to measure sugar content in substances such as soft drinks, fruit juices and tomato concentrates.

Farmers who operate under structural constraints such as access to sub-optimal amounts of resources, technology and markets are collectively called smallholder farmers. Smallholdings are those farms with a low asset base and operating in less than 2 hectares of cropland.

The Codex Alimentarius, or "Food Code" is a collection of standards, guidelines and codes of practice adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The Commission, also known as CAC, is the central part of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme and was established by FAO and WHO to protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade.

CSA is an integrated approach to managing landscapes—cropland, livestock, forests and fisheries--that address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change.

A sum of actors and interactions along the food value chain—from input supply and production of crops, livestock, fish, and other agricultural commodities to transportation, processing, retailing, wholesaling, and preparation of foods to consumption and disposal as also enabling policy environments and cultural norms around food.

This is an international nomenclature for the classification of products. It allows participating countries to classify traded goods on a common basis for customs purposes. At the international level, the Harmonized System (HS) for classifying goods is a six-digit code system.

It is about rebuilding agriculture through science and providing the know-how to governments about environmental governance and rule of law, transforming the finance and economic sectors and leveraging the power of digital technologies. ||