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Transforming Food Systems for a Rising India

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Nguyễn Gia Hào

Academic year: 2023

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This book is a major output of the Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition (TCI) at Cornell University. Mathew Abraham is Deputy Director of the Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition (TCI), Cornell University.

Fig. 2.2  Growth of urban areas  18
Fig. 2.2 Growth of urban areas 18

M otivation

Continuing this policy path will have negative implications for both national political stability and economic development as we look forward. Through its negative impact on food availability, access, nutrition and affordability, climate change will reduce the effectiveness of policies aimed at increasing food and nutrition security for the future.

Aiming to address the current challenges in the Indian development paradox and in light of future challenges facing the country, this book examines the nexus of economic development, agricultural production and nutrition through the lens of a "food systems approach (FSA)". The book will be organized along the lines of the food systems framework shown in Fig.

Fig. 1.1  The multi-sectoral approach for food system transformation
Fig. 1.1 The multi-sectoral approach for food system transformation

The first outcome used in the state classification is GDP per capita. Thus, many of these states were unable to capitalize on the comparative advantages they had in non-staple crop production.

Fig. 2.1  International comparisons in GDP per capita (PPP in constant 2011  international $)
Fig. 2.1 International comparisons in GDP per capita (PPP in constant 2011 international $)

In this section, we argue instead, embedded in the macro statistics are the pull factors created by low-skilled agricultural labor markets in high-ST versus low-ST areas. In response to these changes, one would expect there to be an increase in R2U migration rates.

Table 2.4  Migration patterns over time
Table 2.4 Migration patterns over time

We build on the idea that promoting the rural non-farm economy should be an important part of India's rural transformation strategy. 2 I of India's population was classified as net consumers of rice, a large portion of which was purchased in the market (CITE).

For the first time, in 2012, a larger share of the Indian population worked in the non-farm sector. Investment in the growth of the non-farm sector is considered an important development strategy because of its potential for income redistribution. Similarly, women also benefit from the non-farm sector as their access to resources such as land and employment opportunities remains limited (Lei, Desai, & Vanneman, 2017).

Fig. 3.1  Change in the agricultural workforce. Source: Data from Indian Census  1961–2011, based on author’s calculations (Note: We have used data for the  major Indian states, and district boundaries represent the 1971 divisions for the  sake of comparab
Fig. 3.1 Change in the agricultural workforce. Source: Data from Indian Census 1961–2011, based on author’s calculations (Note: We have used data for the major Indian states, and district boundaries represent the 1971 divisions for the sake of comparab

In the long term, the expansion of the non-farm sector leads to higher agricultural wages which serve as the indirect channel of rural poverty reduction (Lanjouw, 2007). In the Indian context, where education levels are low and vocational skills are limited, the non-farm sector is a profitable alternative for the poor. Over the long term, with a reduction in poverty and investment in future human capital, the non-farm sector can be the springboard for greater economic mobility.

The reduction of rural poverty is also influenced by greater urbanization and the increase in demand for rural products. In regions where agriculture was not part of the structural transformation process, the pattern is different. A large proportion of white-collar jobs in government and other public sectors such as banking are also in rural areas where people commute every day.

P olIcy S trategIeS to  e ncourage the  g rowth

Non-farm opportunities did not increase in the rural areas; rather, roads become a conduit for access to work in nearby towns. Most new jobs in the rural areas will be created in the non-farm sector. The quality of jobs created in the non-farm sector can be dubbed ordinary – informal and accidental – in terms of their potential for rural transformation and the reduction of structural poverty.

It is well documented that India's economic growth has not been able to create enough jobs in the manufacturing sector. These are some of the structural issues that have held back the transformation of the Indian economy in general. Given future demographic projections – increasing numbers of working-age people entering the Indian workforce – poor nutrition and poor health will result in the loss of potential returns from this 'demographic dividend'.

This confirms Bennett's law which states that lifestyle changes accompanied by the opportunity cost of women's time and urbanization lead to a reduction in demand for staple food items and therefore a proportional share of food expenditure. One can see that the decrease in the share of food consumption was accompanied by a proportionally greater decrease in the share of spending on cereals, while spending on non-cereal crops such as vegetables, fruit, dairy products, edible oils, meat products, beverages and other processed food increased. Poverty estimates for rural India for the years 2001–12 indicate that districts with a lower incidence of poverty have a higher share of food expenditure on non-cereals compared to cereals (Fig. 4.3).

Fig. 4.1  Share of monthly expenditures on various food items. Source: NSS  Surveys; based on authors calculations
Fig. 4.1 Share of monthly expenditures on various food items. Source: NSS Surveys; based on authors calculations

During the early years of the Green Revolution, policy objectives for 'grow more' for the growing population bypassed the food supply chain and urban food demand (Reardon & Timmer, 2014). One of the major drivers of agri-food systems and future food demand in India has been the expansion of modern food retailing over the past decade. With greater urbanization in the future, dining out of the Indian population is expected to increase further.

This has resulted in a significant increase in the number of restaurants, food courts and internationally branded eateries across India's major cities. The market value of food restaurants in the foodservice industry has more than tripled in the last decade, from $70.5 to $230.1 billion between 2010 and 2019.3. Greater migration (domestic and international), cable television and the penetration of the Internet have also played their part in the increasing demand for processed foods and the foodservice industry.

In India, the food price inflation episode between 2006 and 2009 led to an increase in the risk of child malnutrition (Vellakkal et al., 2015). This relationship results from a decrease in the amount of food consumed and diet quality through an increase in the cost of the food basket. Protein-rich items such as pulses and animal-based protein items have seen an increase in their prices as well as their volatility (Fig. 4.5).

Fig. 4.5  Wholesale Price Index (WPI) for food items. Source: Office of the  Economic Adviser, Govt
Fig. 4.5 Wholesale Price Index (WPI) for food items. Source: Office of the Economic Adviser, Govt

Therefore, policy must factor in the dynamic nature of growth and the changing nature of consumer demand for nutritious food systems. The hidden middle: The quiet revolution in the middle of agri-food value chains in developing countries. 1 In the previous chapter, we use the definition of nutrition transition as described in Popkin (1997), which refers to the dietary transformation associated with ST.

Fig. 5.1  Percentage point changes in the triple burden of malnutrition in India.
Fig. 5.1 Percentage point changes in the triple burden of malnutrition in India.

This indicator has been correlated with lower access to food in the short term as well as increased mortality risks for children under five. Even within the country, higher prevalence of high sugar content is correlated with high obesity in states (Fig. 5.7). The fourth but important characteristic of the malnutrition problem in India is that it remains a problem for women and children regardless of the level of economic development in the country.

Fig. 5.3  Share of stunted children under 5  years (2015–16). Source: NFHS  2015–16 and World Bank DataBank; based on authors calculations
Fig. 5.3 Share of stunted children under 5  years (2015–16). Source: NFHS 2015–16 and World Bank DataBank; based on authors calculations

An unexpected health episode is known to be a major risk factor for household impoverishment (Krishna, 2011). Farming households from low ST areas have low crop diversity, low capacity to participate in markets, as well as some of the poorer nutritional outcomes in the country. Other practices, such as boiling water before consumption and encouraging people to wash their hands with soap before eating, have been shown to be effective in combating diarrhea (Biran et al., 2008).

Fig. 5.8  Intra-household burden of undernutrition share by state classifications.
Fig. 5.8 Intra-household burden of undernutrition share by state classifications.

For example, in the more hilly areas of Chhattisgarh, addressing the problem of access to food may be more important for reducing malnutrition, while improving access to sanitation may be more effective in the plains of Madhya Pradesh. Changed precipitation patterns, an increase in the number of hot days, and increased air and water pollution will worsen the health environment. In India, we are in the process of moving towards high overnutrition even before we have successfully tackled the problem of undernutrition.

Fig. 5.13  District-level association between urbanization and obesity. Source:
Fig. 5.13 District-level association between urbanization and obesity. Source:

The effect of India's total sanitation campaign on defecation behavior and children's health in rural Madhya Pradesh: a cluster randomized controlled trial. Health and economic burden of projected obesity trends in the US and UK. Safety nets - food and non-food based - have been the cornerstone of India's emerging social security system.

To answer this question, we first examine the range of existing safety nets in India and their implications for the food system. Third, safety nets targeting women or children have implications for intra-household food access. Fiscal capacity to spend on safety nets by government also changes with economic development.

Expansion of the safety net has provided financial security to a large part of the poorer population. However, the last decade has seen a significant improvement in the coverage and utilization of these programs. The utility or effectiveness of the social safety net has therefore been a very active political debate in India.

Table 6.1  Description of major safety net programs in India Targeted
Table 6.1 Description of major safety net programs in India Targeted

PDS has been criticized as poorly designed, leaky, with targeting errors, prone to corruption and a decline in the fiscal capacity of the government. Despite the success of universal PDS in many states, most of the states still have a targeted PDS. One of the reasons for the failures of food-based safety net programs in India was its excessive focus on calorie-based supplementation.

Table 6.2  Targeting of  PDS and MGNREGS  (in %)
Table 6.2 Targeting of PDS and MGNREGS (in %)

This leads to a pressing question – how should we design our food assistance programs to address malnutrition in its multiple dimensions. Using a panel of household data, Ravi and Engler (2015) find that participation in MGNREGS had a significant impact on increased food expenditure and a significant reduction in the number of meals skipped by households. By contributing to human capital, participation in MGNREGS by women had a positive effect on children's educational outcomes (Afridi, Mukhopadhyay, & Sahoo, 2016).

P olItIcal e conomy of   the  S afety n et

The interconnected incentive system between farmers and consumers has made it politically challenging to introduce reforms in the PDS. Since the 1990s, there has been a greater role for the regional parties in central politics, enabling state governments to have greater influence in the political space (Kennedy, 2017). The role of politics in enabling a more equal and better-designed safety net in India's southern states has been there for a long time, but sub-national politics has gained more traction recently.

Increases in urban poverty and the associated nutritional impacts have often been overlooked in the policy arena. This question has generated a lot of academic as well as political debates in recent times. Given the difficult economics of safety nets, global interest in the idea of ​​a Universal Basic Income (UBI) has also reached Indian shores.

In this section, we look at agricultural development in India in the context of small-scale production to assess the nature of growth and trends in regional disparity in the context of the Green Revolution. Therefore, access to infrastructure such as irrigation and inputs such as credit and quality inputs in the form of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides play an essential role in smallholders' ability to diversify. The migration of productive male labor also leads to an increase in the feminization of agriculture (Agarwal, 2010; Pattnaik, Lahiri-Dutt, Lockie, & Pritchard, 2018).

Fig. 7.1  Change in area under production (’000 hectares) of rice between 1960s  and 2000s
Fig. 7.1 Change in area under production (’000 hectares) of rice between 1960s and 2000s

Hình ảnh

Fig. 2.2  Growth of urban areas. Source: AidGeo Data; based on authors  calculations
Fig. 2.5  Global comparison of agricultural employment share. Source: National  Accounts Statistics & World Bank DataBank (2015–16); based on authors  calculations
Table 2.1  Employment transition during structural transformation Year The share of agricultural employment in total employment
Table 2.3  Per capita growth over time
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