The Green Revolution in India which took place in the 1960’s was responsible for increasing agricultural productivity and overall food production in the country. As a result, India had a surplus stock of cereals for the first time ever with a national focus on calorie support to all people, especially for those from lower income groups. In the following decades, as the economy continued to grow, the country experienced a significant decline in poverty levels. Despite this remarkable feat, the rate of malnutrition in India remains stubbornly high.
India has progressed positively on several health outcomes, but the state of food and nutrition security in the country still requires more work. The 2016 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
Country Report noted that, despite India’s significant progress during MDG era, more sustained efforts are required to accelerate achievement, particularly related to food and nutrition security.
The Government of India has undertaken many reforms of the country’s social safety net programmes in order to improve delivery on nutrition and food security targets.
They have launched ambitious schemes such as the National Food Security Act, the National Nutrition Strategy and the National Nutrition Mission, which have the aim of promoting convergent approaches that reflect the multidimensional nature of food and nutrition insecurity, and addressing inequalities related to gender, age, disability, income, caste and region. In such a positive policy environment, the Government’s efforts to address malnutrition and food insecurity has the potential to accelerate progress towards reaching their targets under Sustainable Development Goal 2.
The comprehensive Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cover all the three dimensions of human development – social, economic and environmental. They were launched in 2016 with 17 goals and 169 targets which are meant to be achieved before 2030. One notable difference between the MDGs and the SDGs, is that the SDGs evolved through a series of grassroots consultations across the world, through which India contributed actively in shaping the final product.
India’s performance on the MDGs was mixed and thus extra efforts must be made on achieving SDG targets. While the very first MDG was, ‘To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger’, the SDGs have a separate dedicated goal, SDG 2, which aims to ‘End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’. Broadly, SDG 2 can be considered as consisting of three major components – food security, improved nutrition, and sustainable agriculture.
In supporting the monitoring of progress towards achieving the targets under SDG 2, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) and WFP together conducted analyses of available food and nutrition security information.
Achieving food security requires that all the three separate dimensions such as availability, access and utilization are sufficient and stable over time. This means ensuring that aggregate availability of physical supplies of food from domestic production, commercial imports, food assistance and national stocks is sufficient and that household livelihoods, state policies and socio-cultural norms provide adequate access for all members of the household to those food supplies through home production, market purchases, or transfers from other sources. Utilization of those food supplies must also be appropriate to meet the specific dietary and health needs of individuals within a household.
This report has attempted to analyse data from all three dimensions to help the reader take stock of the food and nutrition situation in India over different periods of time. The analyses are expected to identify the key determinants and linkages that could be useful for decisions on policy, planning and monitoring of Government schemes. This may also help in location specific planning and resource allocation.
As a first step, data from various government sources were compiled, including: the latest rounds of data from the National Family Health Surveys (2005-06 & 2015-16), Consumption Expenditure Surveys from National Sample Surveys conducted between 1993-94 to 2011-12, Census of India (2001 & 2011) and other Government. of India departments and Ministry data sets. Various indicators in the report were translated into thematic maps with appropriate colour coding to be able to compare various indicators across states and, in some cases, against global or nationally accepted norms or benchmarks.
The mapping and analyses are restricted to state level, due to lack of data at district level for many indicators. However, some district level analyses have been performed on indicators where data is available. This report marks only the first step in understanding the food security and nutritional issues in a comprehensive way. However, new data should be used in the future, to enrich the analyses for a better understanding, stocktaking and policy recommendations.