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Rural revitalisation key to eco growth, says 2019 Global Food Policy Report; 821 mn malnourished worldwide

Rural revitalisation key to eco growth, says 2019 Global Food Policy Report; 821 mn malnourished  worldwide

New Delhi, Apr 27 (UNI) Despite strong economic growth in 2018, undernourishment rose for the third year in a row, with 821 million people in the world now facing chronic food deprivation, says 2019 Global Food Policy Report prepared by US-based International Food Policy Research Institute, a non-profit organisation.

'The number of stunted children globally remains very high at 150 million despite a decline of 9 per cent between 2012 and 2017, and other nutrition indicators point to an even more difficult road to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),’’ says the Report.

It notes that the progress in reducing anaemia among women of reproductive age and overweight among children has stagnated, and adult obesity has continued to rise. The urgency of these developments was rarely reflected in global policy dialogues, and bilateral and multilateral funding commitments to the development agenda remained uneven and unpredictable.

Emphasising that rural revitalisation holds the key to solving global food security and malnutrition problems and stimulate economic growth, the Report attributes a global slowdown in achieving Sustainable Development Goals, climate targets and improvement in food and nutrition security to deepening crisis of rural hunger and malnutrition, persistent poverty, limited economic opportunities and environmental degradation.

The report, released here on Saturday, notes that the Indian government has invested in social protection programmes with the broad objective of bringing structural transformation through revitalisation of rural economy.

Yet, despite the progress, India continuously faces the challenge of climate change, risks on land degradation, deterioration of soil quality, and loss of biodiversity which has potentially slowed the rural transformation.

The report emphasises that rural areas could become premiere hubs of innovations in just under a decade with a focus on five building blocks: creating farm and non-farm rural employment opportunities; achieving gender equality; addressing environmental challenges; improving access to energy; and investing in good governance.

“India has unveiled several measures to boost rural economy and improve rural livelihoods by enhancing access to basic services, increasing investments in agriculture and rural infrastructure,” said Shahidur Rashid, Director for South Asia, IFPRI.

“The government has made significant commitments to improve health and nutrition by investing in newer initiatives such as the Healthy India Initiative to provide health centers and health coverage to the most vulnerable; and the National Nutrition Mission targeting nutritional status of infant, children and mothers,” he said.

The Report makes mention of India’s recent programmes include the minimum support prices for major crops (25 at present) equal to at least 1.5 times their production costs. India plans to upgrade 22,000 rural haats (local informal markets) to Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs), and upgrade agri-marketing infrastructure.

It said that promotion of organic farming, support for farmers’ organizations and processing through the Operation Greens scheme, extension of farmer credit to fisheries and animal husbandry farmers, assured purchase of solar energy generated by farmers, and establishment of funds for infrastructure for irrigation are few government measures to boost the economy.

Nevertheless, the report highlights that changing consumption patterns—driven largely by urbanisation, demographic transitions, increasing income, and growing integration of food supply chains and food systems—offer new opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment in rural areas.

“Revitalising rural areas can stimulate economic growth and begin to address the crises in developing countries, and also tackle challenges holding back achievement of the SDGs and climate goals,” said Shenggen Fan, Director-General, IFPRI.

“Rural revitalisation is timely, achievable, and, most important, critical to ending hunger and malnutrition in just over a decade,” he said.

A majority of the world’s poor live in rural areas: rural populations account for 45.3 percent of the world’s total population, but 70 percent of the world’s extremely poor. The global poverty rate in rural areas is currently 17 percent, more than double the urban poverty rate of 7 percent.

This year’s report also features chapters on how Europe’s experience can provide lessons for rural revitalization in developing countries; food policy trends from Africa, Asia, Latin America and other regions; updated data on food policy indicators and more.

The report is the latest in an annual analysis of developments in food policy around the developing world, based on the most recent available evidence, IFPRI said.

UNI GP SB 1454

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