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Foro Global sobre Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición • Foro FSN

Re: Sustainable Farming Systems for Food and Nutrition Security

Nitya Rao
Nitya RaoSchool of International Development and LANSAIndia

Within the gender research conducted through LANSA in India, we have examined the impact of agriculture and the environment on food and nutrition security. In Koraput, Odisha, we found that women control the choice of crops and the output, critical for household nutrition, in the uplands. They grow millets, horsegram, niger and vegetables on these plots(Rao, 2017 These contribute to the diversity of diets at home, but women also sell small quantities in the local markets, whenever they need cash for expenses.

Yet today corporate interventions, especially the rapid spread of eucalyptus plantations for the paper industry, across this region, is displacing women farmers from their upland plots. A Paroja woman in Koraput noted, “I used to grow mandya in two plots for our daily consumption. Someone from the company spoke to my husband and convinced him of the profitability of planting eucalyptus. He agreed, and now I have only one plot left. Only if there is food from our land, is there happiness”. The option of course is to purchase millets from the market, but this is hardly available and prices are unaffordable.

While denying the jointness of both production and reproduction in tribal areas, these interventions are gradually making male control of land, income and indeed women the norm, with negative consequences for nutrition. Baseline nutritional data from LANSA research in Koraput indicates that over 50% of both under-5 and adult population are underweight, especially amongst the STs and SCs. The National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (2009), noting a marginal decline in Chronic Energy Deficiency amongst STs between 1985-2008, alongside a secular decline in the consumption of roots and tubers, as well as other vegetables, confirms this finding.