Food justice in a resource-constrained world

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/papers/growing-better-future.html

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Growing a Better Future catalogues the symptoms of today’s broken food system and warns that we have entered a new age of crisis where depletion of the earth’s natural resources and increasingly severe climate change impacts will create millions more hungry people.

Summary

The global food system works only for the few – for most of us it is broken. It leaves the billions of us who consume food lacking sufficient power and knowledge about what we buy and eat and the majority of small food producers disempowered and unable to fulfil their productive potential.

The failure of the system flows from failures of government – failures to regulate, to correct, to protect, to resist, to invest – which mean that companies, interest groups, and elites are able to plunder resources and to redirect flows of finance, knowledge, and food.

This report describes a new age of growing crisis: food price spikes and oil price hikes, devastating weather events, financial meltdowns, and global contagion. Behind each of these, slow-burn crises smoulder: creeping and insidious climate change, growing inequality, chronic hunger and vulnerability, the erosion of our natural resources.

Based on the experience and research of Oxfam staff and partners around the world and, Growing a Better Future shows how the food system is at once a driver of this fragility and highly vulnerable to it, and why in the twenty-first century it leaves 925 million people hungry.

The report presents new research forecasting price rises for staple grains in the range of 120–180 per cent within the next two decades, as resource pressures mount and climate change takes hold.

Growing a Better Future supports a new campaign with a simple message: another future is possible, and we can build it together.

Author: Robert Bailey
Publication date: 31 May 2011

Why India is Losing its War on Hunger

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/policy/trade/why-india-losing-war-hunger.html

Why India is loosing its war on hunger (download)

India is home to a quarter of the world’s hungry people. Since the Green Revolution, the country has produced enough food to feed itself, but it has not yet been able to wipe out mass hunger. Currently, 40 per cent of the population is malnourished – a decline of only 10 per cent in the past three decades.

Stellar economic growth has not delivered on its promise for poverty reduction and food security. Following a series of neoliberal economic reforms in 1991, India’s GDP has doubled, but despite this, 53 million more people now go to bed hungry every night.

To make matters worse, food prices have recently soared. Poor families, who spend more than 60 per cent of their incomes on food, are increasingly struggling to stretch their meagre household budgets.

Unfortunately, small-scale producers have not benefited from high retail prices for food either, as they usually low prices for their produce. Clearly, the country is in the midst of both an agrarian crisis and a nutrition crisis.

Oxfam International Case Study

Author: Swati Narayan, Independent food and education policy specialist

UPA neglects Agriculture the most

Submitted by editor on Sat, 10/25/2008 – 18:27

Rajnath Singh
India today is on the brink of a protracted recession. Almost every economic indicator in the country is putting immense pressure on all economic activities in the country and painting a gloomy picture of our economy. Inflation is in high double digits, GDP growth rate is faltering, Industrial growth rate has touched a record low of 1.3 percent and the growth of our agriculture sector has turned bad to worse.

Declining capital formation and steep reduction in public investment in agriculture sector during the UPA rule has led to a complete stagnation of Agricultural growth in India. In other words the UPA Government has proved to be a big disaster on the economic front.

Agriculture is considered a recession proof sector as it does not face decline in demand even in a worsening situation. Being a predominantly agrarian society, India has the potential and resources to deal with any challenge posed by recessionary atmosphere in the world.

Eminent thinkers and economists around the world have started chalking out detailed action plans for agriculture and predicted that food security will be the top agenda of all the Governments in future. It clearly indicates that the world is now awakening to the growing importance of strengthening agriculture sector but the UPA Government’s slumber has deepened further.

By pursuing disoriented and confused economic policies the UPA Government has jeopardized our national food security. No wonder, India’s record on hunger today is worse than that of nearly 25 sub-Saharan African countries and all of South Asia, except Bangladesh.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)’s 2008 Global Hunger Index says that with over 200 million people insecure about their daily bread, Indian scenario is ‘alarming’ in terms of hunger and malnutrition.

According to the World Development Report, “To reduce poverty and hunger, the growth of the agricultural sector is the only solution.” But the higher cost of production without a corresponding increase in prices has made agriculture a non viable profession in India.

In the absence of remunerative prices, coupled with lack of timely, affordable and adequate credit and high interest rates have forced the helpless farmer either to quit farming or to commit suicide. More than five thousand farmers committed suicide in different parts of the country.

The Prime Minister’s ‘Vidarbha Package’ for the farmers has failed to address the key issues. The farmer’s loan waiver scheme also met the same fate as it left majority of the farmers agitated and disgruntled.

Both these schemes have proved to be a cruel joke on farmers and the Congress led UPA Government will have to pay a heavy price for it in forthcoming assembly elections and the General Elections scheduled next year.

The UPA Government has remained unconcerned over the gravity of the situation and adopted a casual approach while dealing with a sensitive subject like Agriculture.

I am happy to note that the BJP ruled states have performed better than the Congress led Governments on the agriculture front.
We have the shining example of Gujarat State before us which registered a remarkable 13 percent growth in agriculture in comparison to meager national agriculture growth of nearly 1.8 percent.

After coming to power the BJP led NDA Government will introduce a paradigm shift in agriculture where it will synthesise the old and the new, and focus on the economics of small land holdings.

The BJP will increase the quantum of public investment in agriculture and mandate banks to earmark 30% of their total loans for credit to the agriculture sector. We will take immediate steps to see that the farmers be given loans at not more than 4% interest for agriculture and allied activities.

The NDA Government at the Centre will implement the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers and assure the farmer of actual cost of production plus 50% over and above this cost as the MSP for his produce.

BJP led NDA Government will also implement Farm Income Insurance Scheme to ensure guaranteed income to all farmers in the country.

India facing economic terrorism

UPA Government’s soft and weak-kneed approach to deal with terrorist activities is a fact well known. Unfortunately the issue of internal security which warrants national consensus among all political major political parties and other prominent stake holders in our society has become a casualty of UPA Government’s vote bank politics.

During the 42 months of UPA rule terrorists and anti-India forces have galvanised its cadres and gained strength to strike India anywhere, anytime and at will. They have developed a multi-pronged strategy to damage India at every possible level. Recently we have witnessed a big surge in circulation of fake Indian currency notes in the country. It is well thought strategy of anti-India forces to unleash economic terrorism in the country.

Pakistan’s intelligence agency the ISI has pumped in counterfeit currency worth billions of Rupees into India through Bangladesh and Nepal borders. According to recent estimates by a Government panel, fake currency worth 1 lakh 69 thousand crores Rupees are already in circulation.

Fake currency notes have been recently confiscated in many States. Even at the branches of the Nationalised banks and their ATM’s fake currency notes have been confiscated. Counterfeit currency is being used to fund terrorist operations. I urge the present dispensation at the Centre to take effective steps to plug the supply of fake currency notes in India.

The BJP demands the Government that it should come out with a white paper on circulation of fake currency in India.

MP at bottom of hunger pyramid

BS Reporter / New Delhi October 15, 2008, 0:31 IST

http://www.business-standard.com/india/storypage.php?autono=337412

Madhya Pradesh, which reported deaths of malnourished children last month, has the most severe level of hunger in the country and ranks between African countries Ethiopia and Chad, according to a global hunger index released today by the International Food Policy Research Institute in conjunction with Welthungerhilfe (formerly known as German Agro-Action) and the University of California, Riverside.

MP is followed by Jharkhand and Bihar, according to the first-ever India State Hunger Index, which was released along with the global index. Punjab and Kerala scored the best.

The Indian state hunger index analyses hunger levels in 17 major states and scores range from “serious” to “extremely alarming”. It measures hunger on three leading indicators and combines them into one index. The three indicators are prevalence of child malnutrition, rates of child mortality and the proportion of people who are calorie deficient.

The index for India found that not a single state in India fell in the “low hunger” or “moderate hunger” categories. Twelve states fall in the “alarming” category, and one state — Madhya Pradesh — falls in the “extremely alarming” category. Four states — Punjab, Kerala, Haryana and Assam — fall in the ‘serious‘ category.

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Food First Policies needed to tackle hunger in India

Shiva: Food-First Policies Needed to Tackle Hunger in India

Indian activist Vandana Shiva holding a pin that reads 'No thanks to GMO food'

Shiva blames the increase in hunger on the use of genetically engineered seeds

Dramatic price increases have left nearly a billion people hungry worldwide. As World Poverty Day draws attention to the issue, DW’s Dennis Stute speaks with activist Vandana Shiva about India’s huge hunger levels.

Dr. Vandana Shiva is a physicist, ecologist, activist and author. In India she has established Navdanya, a movement for biodiversity conservation and farmers’ rights. She also directs the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy.

The UN has declared Oct. 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

DW-WORLD.DE: How has the food crisis affected India?
Vandana Shiva: Very severely. Prices of staples have literally doubled in the last year and that has meant that the poor who were already only eating half of what they should be eating are now eating a quarter of what they should be. Unfortunately, it is the poor who must make a living by working physically and what we’re basically doing is robbing them of their ability to earn a living.

In addition, when children don’t get enough food to eat or when a mother is malnourished and she gives birth to a low birth-weight child, we are creating generations of people deprived of full mental health and full physical health.

According to a new report, there are “alarming” levels of hunger in 12 Indian states and “serious” levels in the remaining five. What, in your view, is the reason for the widespread malnutrition?

There are two very big reasons why India has emerged as the capital of hunger. The first is the “Green Revolution” model of agriculture, which was actually a hunger-creating model proposed as a hunger solution. But when you destroy food sources in pulses, in vegetables, in grains, in oil seeds and create monocultures of rice and wheat, you destroy the millets — the nutritious grains that have 40 times higher level of nutrition — and call them inferior grains and push them to extinction. On the ground, you have less food per unit acre and you have less nutrition access per capita.

Man picking an ear of corn from a stalk GMO crops require more water and provide less nutritional value, says Shiva

The second is related to the new thrust of the 1991 policies of trade liberalization which instead of focusing on food for people focused on exports of luxury cash crops to rich countries, destroying India’s food security base. This was trade-driven and really put food on the back burner then, treated as something you don’t need policy for.

The food situation is particularly bad in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Why is this state doing even worse than the others?
The two reasons Madhya Pradesh is more severely affected than others is that it’s a large forest state and it’s largely a tribal state. The food security of the tribals came from abundant forest products including edible products from the forest’s produce. Mining and industrialization is so rampant that tribals are losing their food resources.

It’s also the state where the drought impact because of climate change has been felt very severely. Bundelkhan has had a drought and rainfall failure for four years — there has been no cultivation at all. And that’s partly because the agricultural model is based on new seeds like hybrid seeds which need chemicals. But that’s the stupidest thing you could do because climate change requires adaption to drought which means planting crops that are resilient to drought — the millets that use only 250 millimeters of rain.

But unfortunately the government, driven by international agencies like the World Bank, has walked on the wrong road for a period of market volatility and climate uncertainty. The combination is a recipe for hunger and famine. We need to shift our focus from global markets and global trades to local food security and away from export crops to growing food and nutrition for our people.

In the past ten years, more than 140,000 farmers in India have committed suicide according to official figures. Why is their situation so desperate?

The first suicide came in 1997. When the impact of the new policies of liberalizing the seed sector started to get felt and corporations like Monsanto, who wanted to sell genetically modified seed, entered the market.

They started to sell non renewable hybrid seeds which meant the farmers had to spent huge amounts of money buying seed every year. These seeds also needed irrigation and were vulnerable to pests to the farmers had to spend more money putting in irrigation systems and buying pesticides. That meant a higher debt burden on farmers. Falling prices of the products and rising costs of production squeezed the farmers even further into debt. And that is what has led to the spate of suicides.

How can you tackle the problem of hunger?

A bowl of rice is being handed from an adult hand to a child's Getting food into the hands of the poor is difficult due to heavy subsidies

I think the most urgent steps to be taken to tackle the problem are to actually develop the farming systems to produce more food per unit acre. Every assumption of industrial agriculture is wrong because it does not produce more food but uses more chemicals and more water per unit acre. It produces more commodities for international trade per unit acre but it does not produce more food or more nutrition per unit acre. Models of farming that can increase food-production fivefold, ten fold, depending on your climatic conditions have evolved through the organic movement. Those models of biodiverse, ecological systems can solve the problem of hunger.

The second thing that needs to be done is to bring back food-first policies. In India after independence we have not had hunger on the scale we are now witnessing. We had a famine in 1942 which killed two million people. We had enough food in the country but the British were extracting every bit of rice from Bengal and exporting it for profit — exporting it to finance the war. We drove that famine away through public policy that put food first through a universal public distribution system that meant everyone has a right to affordable food. That was dismantled by the World Bank and it has to be resurrected.

The poor must have food at affordable price instead of subsidizing global corporations. What the government has to do is to buy, preferably organics, from the Indian farmers and then subsidize the prices for the poor. We would save our financial budgets, we would save our taxes and we would have more food at lower prices. India this year is spending one trillion rupees in subsidies for global corporations to buy chemical fertilizers. That’s the wrong way to go. We can lower costs of production, increase output per acre, increase equity and distribution. That is food sovereignty. That is food security. That is food first.

Hunger in Indian States "alarming"

BBC online: Oct. 14, 2008..

Hunger in India states ‘alarming’

India has some of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world

Twelve Indian states have “alarming” levels of hunger while the
situation is “extremely alarming” in the state of Madhya Pradesh, says
a new report.

Madhya Pradesh’s nutrition problems, it says, are comparable to the
African countries of Ethiopia and Chad.

India has more people suffering hunger – a figure above 200 million –
than any other country in the world, it says.

The report, released as part of the 2008 Global Hunger Index, ranks
India at 66 out 88 countries.

‘Scored worse’

The hunger index has been released by the International Food Policy
Research Institute (IFPRI) along with Welthungerhlife and the
University of California.

It measures hunger on three indicators which include child
malnutrition, rates of child mortality and the number of people who
are calorie deficient.

Table of full results

The problem of hunger is measured in five categories – low, moderate,
serious, alarming or extremely alarming.

The survey says that not one of the 17 states in India that were
studied were in the low or moderate hunger category.

“Despite years of robust economic growth, India scored worse than
nearly 25 sub-Saharan African countries and all of South Asia, except
Bangladesh,” the report says.

The best performing state was Punjab, which has a ‘serious’ hunger
problem and does less well than developing countries such as Gabon,
Vietnam and Honduras.

About 60% children in Madhya Pradesh state are malnourished

“When Indian states are compared to countries in the Global Hunger
Index, [the central Indian state of] Madhya Pradesh ranks between
Ethiopia and Chad,” it says.

India is long known to have some of the highest rates of child
malnutrition and mortality in under-fives in the world.

According to the Indian government statistics two years ago, around
60% of more than 10 million children in the state were malnourished.

Nutrition experts say the abysmal record is due to an inadequate
access to food, poor feeding practices and poor childcare practices in
India.

And now the rise in the global food prices has reduced the food-buying
capacity of many poor families, making their situation worse.

In the past year food prices have increased significantly, but
people’s incomes haven’t kept pace, forcing many families further into
hunger, experts say.

The report says “improving child nutrition is of utmost urgency in
most Indian states”.

“All states also need to improve strategies to facilitate inclusive
economic growth, ensure food sufficiency and reduce child mortality,”
it adds.