Covid-19 and hunger crisis in the hungry nation
By Bhumica M
REVA University, Bangalore
India is one of the world’s largest food producers. Ironically, the country is also home to the largest population of hungry people and one-third of the world’s malnourished children. The Global Hunger Index ranks India 102nd among 117 countries.
The course of the COVID-19 pandemic has made these conditions worse. The virus has disrupted global and local food systems, and India’s poor and hungry are being affected worse than ever.
Covid-19 has and has been continuously hitting hard on the economic, social and political aspects of life all over the world. One among the disasters that have been intensifying due to the pandemic is the hunger crisis in many countries. The same situation is in India as well. The food and agricultural organisation FAO notified that 40% of the food produced in India is lost or wasted every year due to inefficient supply chains. Pandemic has just amplified the vulnerabilities. It has disrupted local, regional and national level supply chains. The lockdown measures resulted in severe labour shortages delaying wheat harvest by two weeks which added on to this food crisis. Many farmers were not able to even sell their produce during the pandemic. Due to returning migrant workers into States of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal it resulted in an uprising of potato prices by 9% in wholesale price and 11% in retail price. Imports of food have also stalled due to pandemic. Disinformation that virus will spread through food items led to people changing their eating patterns. Even the food grains given by the government were reduced and very few incentives were provided. All these things made this situation even worse that led to food shortage and type of Hunger crisis in India. But as we say there is light after every dark day as few NGOs and social activists even concerned people about the public are providing helping hands to those who are in need and even the government is trying its level best.
COVID-19 is posing unprecedented challenges for governments, businesses and individuals all over the world.
For the world’s biggest democracy and the largest population of hungry people, current local and national economic and social assistance measures are a good start. This is, however, only a small part of a long journey to establish broad, inclusive and equal livelihoods and food systems that can start closing the caloric and nutrient gap for the poor. This truism holds for all countries, regardless of GDP levels.The situation in India has been a wake-up call on the need to reconfigure food systems and the millions of livelihoods and lives depending on them.
So when we think of a way forward it can be done by expanding and improving emergency food assistance programs and providing for good supply chains and also people who are better off of the population should help the needy and promote the concept of global home.