English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

With record grain production during Covid, can India help prevent global hunger ?

Food security-- concerns rise

India’s grain production driven by rice, wheat and corn could touch a record 305.4 million tonnes in 2020-21 — an increase of 8 million tonnes from last year’s harvest, a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has said. This would bring cheer to the country’s policymakers amid Covid 19 related uncertainties and apprehensions over food security. Besides, many rice producing countries have reported a drop in production due to severe rains and floods.

In fact, armed with a food surplus India can emerge as a major player to prevent global hunger, as many developing countries are threatened with food insecurity on account of Covid disruptions, analysts say.

A World Bank report said an increasing number of countries are facing growing levels of acute food insecurity, reversing years of development gains.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said that the world hunger increased in 2020 under the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic. “After remaining virtually unchanged for five years, the prevalence of undernourishment (PoU) increased from 8.4 to around 9.9 per cent in just one year, heightening the challenge of achieving the ‘Zero Hunger’ target by 2030,” it said.

India is fully aware of the negative social impact that the Covid 19 pandemic has brought the world over.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar said that Covid has impacted the fight against poverty, hunger and disease across the country. “It has pushed back the global development agenda increasing vulnerability in many societies,” the minister said at the recently-concluded G20 summit.

Also read: Trade must widen to ensure food security: WTO chief

According to World-Grain, a news publication dedicated to the global grains sector, the USDA has noted that India’s wheat stocks have ballooned on back-to-back record harvest. Stocks are estimated at 60.3 million tonnes as of June 1, it said.

Importantly, the government is releasing 2.2 million tonnes of wheat monthly under food security programmes. The news organisation said that in addition to this the Covid-19 relief programme will draw down stocks by 8 million tonnes.

“India need not worry about food security though this has become a cause for concern in many places as crops have been damaged due to restrictions related to the Covid 19 pandemic and weather conditions..we have enough grains to take care of our people,” an insider told India Narrative.

Also read: India continues to feed the world as its non basmati rice exports increase by 288% in April

“Covid-19 impacts have led to severe and widespread increases in global food insecurity, affecting vulnerable households in almost every country, with impacts expected to continue through 2021 and into 2022,” the report said.

The poorer nations will be impacted more. “Rising food prices have a greater impact on people in low- and middle-income countries since they spend a larger share of their income on food than people in high-income countries,” the report said.