Transforming food systems for a rising India

The Indian growth story is paradoxical. Despite multiple decades of economic growth, malnutrition and food insecurity persist. Growing populations and growing incomes have simultaneously increased demand for diet diversity and put pressure on agricultural systems. Rising trends in obesity along with non-communicable diseases, waxing regional inequality, and the looming influence of climate change forewarn us of a future public health crisis.

Agriculture is central to the overall economic development process. Issues of poverty, low productivity, and malnutrition have all been linked to the poor performance of the agricultural sector. Most of the scholarly work assessing the agricultural landscape, however, looks at economic growth, agricultural production, and health outcomes as separate domains of inquiry.

Similarly in the public sphere, we see policies that increase productivity in agriculture at the expense of the environment, policies that increase economic growth while also increasing regional inequality and hurting small farmers, and top-down policies that aim to reduce undernutrition without any discussion on how to tackle growing obesity. Policy recommendations, therefore, remain palliative at best, often treating the symptoms but not the core problems in the economy. Policy initiatives often do not consider the implications of the ever-changing economic, demographic, and climatic landscape of the nation.

Drawing from and building upon the policy analysis and research at the Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition, Transforming Food Systems for a Rising India evaluates the intersectionality of these domains – economic growth, agriculture production, and health and nutrition – and their spillovers on the economic, ecological and health systems within the country of India. Greater demand for diet diversity, rapid urbanization, a rising middle class and a growing population now provides new opportunities to leverage urban growth for rural development. Given the challenges climate change poses to the stability of the food system, this book provides insights and policy recommendations for tackling some of the major issues facing nutrition security in the future.

This book summary provides an integrative Food Systems Approach (FSA) that captures these complexities while highlighting some of the major opportunities and challenges that lay ahead for creating a nutrition-secure future. Get your copy of it today.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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