On the important subject of food security and nutrition I have to say that we as development professionals, funders, governments, etc. have miserably failed jointly in providing adequate quantities of food to the poorest sections. While there are huge disparities with regard to food production and availability of food, there remain grave concerns on the point of ensuring nutrition security among communities. Childhood malnutrition and food defficiency among the poorest (often land insecure) communities remain major problems even as we approach the MDG target of 2015.
On the issue of food security and better nutrition I have two points to make...
i) Governments worldwide, including in India have not really done enough on these points and many a times they have left the job half done. Though numerous agriculture development measures and public distribution system and other food distribution programmes are operational in India they have suffered from huge leakages and programme innovation, thus failing in meeting the desired objectives. For the past couple of years there has been discussion regarding the promulgation of a Food Security Bill which promises a lot but falls short of explaining how it will achive the stated objectives in the current scenario.
ii) While most of the programme interventions have pointed towards addressing malnutrition and nutrition security through "external supplementation" there has been little effort for promotion of home based food production through kitchen garden or nutrition garden. I strongly believe that large scale and long term nutrition garden programmes designed for the poorest could be beneficial in achieving better household nutrition security. I have seen with minimal monetary inputs but with close facilitation poor families having even small plots of land have been able to grow a variety of vegetables, greens, tubers and fruit trees to feed to the family food basket. There is a need of proper packaging of the existent government programmes such as the seed mini kit, backyard plantation programmes and such an intervention can be implemented in a wide scale.
Neverthless it still intruiges me why Governments fail to take up programmes that would directly benefit the poorest in the most simple and easy manner...
Related links and resources:
The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012
Millennium Development Goals
The World Food Summit 1996
Food Security Governance and the Right to Food
From Protection to Production