Saturday, June 11, 2011


The word 'food" means different things to different people. Those who are over consuming, it is a question of the sensory pleasure they get out of eating more and more rich foods while poor people with insufficient quantity to access their needs fully are under consumers. There are also population considered mal consumers who do not eat nutritionally balanced food due to poverty or ignorance. One of the most blizzare developments modern world has seen is co-existence of over consumed and under consumed categories of population in all countries whether rich or poor with the former, due to their affluence form an island amongst the unfortunate impoverished fellow denizens. Wealth distribution to narrow the gap between the poor and the affluent does not take place in spite of many so called poverty eradication policies that are touted by each country but on the contrary the chasm is widening which is hurtling the world towards anarchy and devastation. The rich man's club, going under the crisp banner of G8 makes tall promises but defaults when it comes to implementation. Food prices which are sky rocketing will exacerbate the crisis further leading to food riots, as seen in 2008, in more than 35 countries considered vulnerable to potential starvation. Unless there is a clean break from the failed policies of the past and food does not assume a center stage role in new policies, future of this planet is likely to be bleak.

"From the 1960s, with growing evidence and conviction, environmentalists have warned that human reliance on the eco-sphere might be threatened. Public health analysts spotted the transition from problems of under-consumption to those of over- and mal-consumption. Mass hunger sits alongside mass obesity. This distortion is no longer one where the rich world is fat, and the developing world is thin; even sub-Saharan Africa now has an obesity problem. The evidence of this mismatch between policy and reality has been growing for decades. It ought to be centre-stage on every government's food policy agenda. The tragedy is this isn't the case. For a moment, when in 2006-08 world food prices rose, even rich countries looked worried. Fresh from the banking crisis, no one wanted food destabilisation too. An emergency world conference was scheduled. But even before it was held, prices began to drop. Sighs of relief in the west. Three years on, prices are way above 2008 levels, and food inflation is endemic. Oxfam predicts food prices will double by 2030. That would take the average British shopping basket to about 20 per cent of disposable income. But to the poorest of the world, it would mean almost all income going on food. Even the World Bank and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are troubled".

The key to achieve equity in food accessibility is increased production of food all around with each country contributing its might to improve availability. The much needed technological tools are already available and what is required is transferring them to small and marginal farmers along with adequate resource inputs. Farmers are intelligent by nature and if adequate national support is provided they can do marvels to the economic and human health of a country. Intertwined with the agriculture are policies regarding land, energy and water, all to be considered holistically. It is sad that countries like India touts about massive agricultural and food subsidies as a tool for national growth where as these subsidies in reality serve more as a means of catching votes during the 5 yearly elections. Probably the current crop of politicians at the helm of affairs have proved their incompetence and more competent technocratic administrators may have to emerge to achieve the goal of food for every body "without pain".


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