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The Cost of Hunger in Africa: The Social and Economic Impact of Child Undernutrition in Malawi

The Cost of Hunger in Africa (CoHA): The Social and Economic Impact of Child Undernutrition in Malawi report shows that the country loses significant sums of money each year as a result of child undernutrition through increased healthcare costs, additional burdens to the education system and lower productivity by its workforce. It estimates that child undernutrition cost Malawi 10.3 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2012 (most recent year with complete data).

The 12-country, government-led study is commissioned by the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development’s Planning and Coordinating Agency and supported by the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the UN World Food Programme. The study's model estimates the additional cases of illness, death, school repetitions, school dropouts, and reduced physical productivity directly associated with those suffering undernutrition before the age of five. Based on data from each country, the model then estimates the associated economic losses incurred by the economy in terms of health, education, and potential productivity in a single year. So far, it has been conducted in six countries in Africa including Malawi.

Some key findings to emerge from the study in Malawi reveal that:

  • 60 percent of adults suffered from stunting as children. This represents some 4.5 million people of working age who are not able to achieve their potential as a consequence of child undernutrition.
  • Undernutrition was associated with 23 percent of all child mortalities in Malawi. This represented some 81,800 child deaths in 2012. Child undernutrition was estimated to generate health care costs equivalent to MWK 11.4 million (US$ 46 million).
  • In Malawi, where two thirds of people are engaged in manual activities, it is estimated that in 2012 alone, MWK 16.5 billion (US$67 million) were lost due to the reduced productivity of those who were stunted as children.

Overall, the Cost of Hunger in Africa study serves as an important tool to show how undernutrition is not just a health issue, but an economic and social one as well that requires multi-sectoral commitment and investment. It reinforces the critical need to prioritize nutrition in the national development agenda.

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Family Farming in Russian Regions, Small-Scale Agriculture and Food Supporting Russia's Food Self-Sufficiency.

ABSTRACT In the paper is argued that the potential role of small-scale Russian agriculture and food is underestimated. Based on an overview of Russian agriculture the position of family farming is illustrated. The scope of small-scale-agriculture is broader than food production. It has opportunities also on employment, rural livelihoods, ethic, social and cultural diversity and ecological values. Illustrated by a number of examples it becomes clear that small-scale agriculture is a strong potential factor in local and regional development of Russia. The question how to stimulate small-scale agriculture and food is answered by elaborating five focal points: stimulating a chain and a network approach, modernization of small-scale agriculture and food, increasing regional capacities, and governance, both at a regional, national and international level. In the paper the results of a Case study in Krasnodar of a private organic/natural agriculture and food chain are presented. This shows that basic principles of working in local chains and networks are already practiced in Russia. Moreover it shows that there is a good breeding ground for application of the recommendations, presented in this

Published in: The International Journalurnal of Small Business and Enterprise Development 01/2015; 2(4):103-136. DOI: 10.15640/jsbed.v2n3-4a7.

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Sustainable Development of Indian Agriculture: An Overview

Sustainable Development of Indian Agriculture: An Overview

**Bibhu Santosh Behera,Ph.D Research Scholar,OUAT,Bhubaneswar

**Prof.Anama Charan Behera,Dept. of Economics,D.B.College,Turumunga,Keonjhar

***Rudra Ashish Behera,P.G.Scholar,The Techno School,Bhubaneswar


Agriculture in India occupies an important place as it contributes nearly 25 per cent of GDP and two-thirds of the population depends upon it. Agricultural growth in the past has been sufficient to move from severe food crisis to aggregate food surplus today. The sustainability issue of the crop productivity is fast emerging. The post-Green Revolution phase is characterized by high input-use and decelerating total factor productivity growth (TFPG). The agricultural productivity attained during the 1980s has not been sustained during the 1990s and has posed a challenge for the researchers to shift the production function upward by improving the technology index. It calls for an examination of issues related to the trends in the agricultural productivity.            Sustainable management of agriculture, forests, fisheries and ecosystem services is necessary for achieving the goals of intra generational equity and inter generational equity. As the dependence of the poor on the natural resource base is relatively higher than for the non-poor, sustainable management of natural resources helps in poverty eradication. The poor also benefits more from greater access to clean water, non-timber forest products and other eco-system services. Here the authors described about various policies and strategies for Sustainable development.

Key Words:-Sustainable,GDP,TFPG,Developement ,Agriculture


As the bed rock of India’s Economy, agriculture and its allied activities have remained the focal point of the India’s planned economic development. In fact, two- thirds of the country’s workforce deriving their livelihood from agriculture and allied activities, the performance of this sector still holds the key to improvements in real incomes and living standards of the bulk of the India’s population. Despite phenomenal diversification of the country’s economy, this sector even now constitutes the largest contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Thus, there can be no sustained growth of Indian economy without broad based progress of our agriculture.

Agriculture produces 51 major crops, provides raw materials to country’s agro-based industries and fetches approximately one-sixth of total export earnings. India is a rich endowment of nature. India has diverse agro-climatic regions, large arable land, suitable fertile soil qualities, abundant sunlight, and spread of monsoon rains, comparative advantage in global markets and a receptive and resurgent farming community. Our climate, being moderate, enables us to grow two to three crops a year, whereas in most parts of the world, due to severe winters only one crop can be grown a year.

The report of Brundtland Commission (1987), defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." The world commission on Environment and Development stated that sustainable development “.. is a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investment, orientation of technological development, and institutional change are all in harmony and endorse both the current and future potential to meet human needs and operations.”Arrow, Dasgupta, Goulder, Mumford and Oleson (2010) take the view that economic development should be evaluated in terms of its contribution to intergenerational well-being.

The UN bodies and many governments consider three dimensions of sustainable development — economic, social and environmental. Economic efficiency is necessary for achieving the maximum possible growth with limited resources. The social dimension is in terms of equity, particularly intra generational equity. Poverty eradication is one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); it has become a global public good by global public choice. The environmental dimension captures internalization of environmental costs of pollution and natural resource degradation in decision making of all economic agents and intra generational equity. It is being realized that natural resource degradation and pollution are not just environmental challenges; they threaten poverty eradication and achievement of the MDGs.

The sustainability of agriculture in India cannot be isolated from the sustainability of development of India and beyond. Agriculture is one of the important components of sustainable development.

The comprehensive definition of Sustainable agriculture was put forth firstly in US farm Bill 1990. According to this bill sustainable agriculture “as an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site specific application that will, over the long run, satisfy human food and fibre needs, enhance environmental quality and conservation of natural resources base upon which the agriculture economy, make the most efficient use of non-renewable resources; and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls, sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and hence the quality of life of farmers and society as a whole”. American Society of Agronomy defines sustainable agriculture as “… one that, over the long term enhance environmental quality depends provides for basic human food and fibre needs, is economically viable, and enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.”

Sustainable agriculture has been recognized as agriculture that combines modern technological and innovation with proven resources conservation and food and fibre production practices to protect environmental quality, maintain and enhance  profitability, preserve rural communities, and  produce  a safe and adequate supply of food of food for current and future generations. The sustainable agriculture entails management of agricultural activities to protect air soil and water quality and to conserve biodiversity, and thereby increasing long term productivity and profitability, as well as enhancing human health and well being. Production of a safe, high quality and affordable supply of food and fibre in a manner that protects and conserves natural resources and human health are all interrelated aspects of sustainable agriculture.

The objectives of sustainable agriculture have been stated as follows:

  1. To conserve and enhance the natural resource that agriculture uses and shares.
  2. To be compatible with other environmental resources which are affected by agriculture.
  3. To be proactive in protecting the agri-food sector from the environmental impacts caused by other sector and factors external to agriculture.


Agricultural Growth, Employment and Rural Poverty

During the first decade of the Millennium the rate of growth of agricultural output was lower than the planned output. The Planning Commission of India fixed a target growth rate of four percent per annum for the 11th plan. The target of four percent growth in GDP from agriculture and allied sectors was felt necessary to achieve overall GDP growth target of nine percent per annum without undue inflation and generate exportable surplus. Also global experience reveals that growth originating in agricultural sector is at least twice effective in reducing poverty as GDP growth originating in other sectors. There are forward and backward linkages with the non-agricultural sector.

The annual rate of growth of crop output during 2000-01 to 2004-05 was only one percent and during 2004-05 to 2009-10 it was 1.7 percent. These growth rates were close to the overall population growth rate during the decade. The growth rates of higher value added sectors (per hectare of land) namely horticulture, livestock and fisheries outputs were higher. This diversification is desirable as the shares of horticultural and livestock products increase in food budgets as households incomes increase. The forestry output growth rate was lower because of policies related to conservation and sustainable use for forest resources.

The share of agriculture and allied activities in gross domestic product at factor cost fell from 55.1 percent in 1950-51 to 14.6 percent in 2009-10. This declining share of agricultural sector is consistent with the development experiences of developed countries. What is disconcerting is the very slow shift of employment from agricultural sector to non-agricultural sector. As the share of rural population in total population at 70 percent (72.2 percent in 2001 census) and using an estimate of agricultural employment of 749 persons per 1000 persons employed from 61st Round of National Sample Survey (2004-05) the share of agricultural employment in total employment is estimated at 52.43 percent. This means that the average value added per employee in the non-agricultural sector is about 6.4 times higher than the value added per employee in the agricultural sector. This order of magnitude widens income inequality between agricultural and non-agricultural sectors and suggests the need for policy changes to achieve the goal of inclusive growth.

In rural areas there has been a slow shift in employment from agriculture and allied activities to other activities. It may be seen data that in 2004-05 about two-thirds of rural males and six out of every rural woman depended on agriculture. While the percentage of male workers depending on agriculture fell from 80 in 1977-78 to 66 in 2004-05, the percentage of women depending on agriculture showed a small decrease from 88 to 83.

According to Tendulkar Committee report (2009)) rural poverty fell from 50.1 percent in 1993-94 to 41.8 percent in 2004-05; the corresponding change in urban poverty is from 31.8 percent to 25.7 percent. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Programme , which began in the first year of the 11th Plan is expected to reduce the percentage of people below the poverty line in rural areas.

Agricultural Resource Base 



             The rapid increase in population and slow shift of labour from agriculture to non-agriculture is evident in the dominance of marginal farms. In 2002-03 nearly 70 percent of the operational holdings were marginal holdings with size less than one hectare; another 16 percent were small holdings with size between 1-2 hect. (National Sample Survey Report, 2003-2004).The small sizes prevent farmers from adopting improved agricultural technologies and create barriers for accessing credit and adopting improved agricultural practices.

India is facing serious environmental stress in her natural resource stocks. Land desertification and land degradation affect the quality of land, the major capital input in farming. A study of Ajai et al. (2009) provides information on land desertification and land degradation in India that out of total geographical area of 328.73 million hect, 81.45 million hect (24.8 per cent) lands is degraded.



A study by Narasimhan and Gaur reveals that during 1995-96 to 2006-07, on an average, the contributions of surface and groundwater to net irrigated area were 32 percent and 60 percent respectively. There has been a fall in ground water table due to rapid expansion of tube wells. There is deterioration in water quality. Biological contamination of surface water sources due to poor sanitation and waste disposal resulted in incidence of water-borne diseases throughout the country. Chemical pollution of groundwater, with arsenic, fluoride, iron, nitrate and salinity as the major contaminants is directly connected with falling water tables and extraction of water from deeper levels.
There has been a severe erosion of the financial status of the irrigation systems. At present irrigation revenues cover barely 15 percent of working expenses and only five percent of total costs and losses. As for agricultural pumpsets, zero marginal pricing of electricity and use of energy inefficient pumpsets in most states discourage energy conservation and overuse of water resulting in depletion of water and deterioration of the water quality.


Policies for Sustainable Agricultural Development:-

1.Capital Formation in Agricultural Sector

             After stagnation, gross capital formation as percent of agricultural GDP has been rising from 2004-05. The share of public investment in the gross capital formation has also picked up from 2003-04.
We need an expenditure switch from subsidies to investments which augment the quantities and qualities of natural resource stocks. The necessary additional resources for capital formation can be generated via (i) phasing out environmentally perverse subsidies such as high subsidies for urea, under pricing of irrigation water and very low/zero pricing of electricity for farm pump sets; (ii) reducing leakages, and targeting subsidies in the public distribution system to people below poverty line; (iii) rationalization of irrigation charges and agricultural electricity tariffs; and (iv) introduction of user charges/payment for ecosystem services. The policy reforms involve a package of technological, institutional and incentive based reforms.

2. Technology

              India has developed the institutional capacity for using remote sensing data for natural resources management. The National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS) facilitates optimum utilization of the country’s natural resources through a proper and systematic inventory of the resource availability. Some important applications of remote sensing technologies in the agricultural sector are preparation of hydro-morphological maps showing areas suitable for targeting points for locating drinking wells ; mapping of wastelands into different categories; integrated surveys for combating drought; biodiversity characterization; disaster management support system; assessment of snow-melt run-off; forest cover mapping; potential fishing zone forecasts; coastal zone mapping and crop area and production forecasts.
                The green revolution helped India in achieving self-sufficiency in food. But the green revolution is environmentally unsustainable. We need an ecologically sustainable green revolution. We need more research on appropriate technologies for coarse cereals, pulses and horticultural crops, especially in arid and semi-arid areas. The National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture stresses the need for devising strategies to make Indian agriculture more resilient to climate change. The Mission has to identify and develop new varieties of crops and especially thermal resistant crops and alternative cropping patterns capable of withstanding extremes of weather, long dry spells, flooding and variable moisture availability.

         India is emerging a leader in applications of biotechnology to agriculture, medicine and environment. Application of this technology to agriculture may result in improving yield, nutritional improvement, increasing shelf life of fruits and vegetables by delayed ripening, conferring resistance to insects, pests and viruses, tolerance to abiotic stresses (drought, salt, water-logging) and herbicide tolerance. There are also concerns about transplanting genetically modified seeds developed abroad in Indian soil.

               Reclamation of salt affected lands, bioremediation of contaminated sites and conversion of waste lands to productive uses via agro forestry/corporate management/community based self-governing organizations can increase the cultivated area and create livelihood opportunities for the poor. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme offers scope for cleaning of rivers, lakes, ponds and wetlands.

3. Policy Changes:

We need policies for crop diversification, generation of non-farm opportunities in rural areas and development of agro based industries. Other policy changes needed are (i) implementation of nutrition based subsidy scheme with fertilizer prices linked to minimum support prices (ii) creation of Water Regulatory Authority for allocation and rational pricing of irrigation water as recommended by the Thirteenth Finance Commission (iii) metering of electricity for pump sets and phasing out electricity subsidies (iv) development of payment for ecosystem services e.g., between forest dwellers and farmers and local bodies in near-by regions for increases in the quantity and quality of water supplied (v) targeting agricultural subsidies and concessional agricultural credit only to small and marginal farmers using unique identification cards.

India’s growth potential and export potential in horticultural products are very high. At present only about 0.5 percent of the value of horticultural products is exported. Accelerating India’s agricultural growth exploiting opportunities provided by globalization is feasible (Kalirajan, Mythili and Sankar, 2001).

India along with other mega biodiversity countries is taking efforts for incorporation of country of origin, prior informed consent and access benefit sharing provisions of the Convention on Biodiversity in patent registrations abroad. This would incentivize the guardians of traditional knowledge and biological resources for adoption of sustainable management practices.

Concluding Remarks
            The suitable policies should be adopted which signal farmers about the social costs of different natural resources and ecosystem services and incentivize them to adopt productivity enhancing farming methods and practices, crop diversification and post-harvest technologies for reducing wastes and better price realization. Subsidies must be targeted to achieve equity and environmental sustainability.

            Sustainable management of agriculture, forests, fisheries and ecosystem services is necessary for achieving the goals of intra generational equity and inter generational equity. As the dependence of the poor on the natural resource base is relatively higher than for the non-poor, sustainable management of natural resources helps in poverty eradication. The poor also benefits more from greater access to clean water, non-timber forest products and other eco-system services.  

For sustainability of agriculture, it is essential to achieve optimal production with minimal external inputs and enhanced use of non-farm resources, maintain productivity, reduce the level of production risk, protect the potential of natural resources, prevent degradation of soil and water quality, and satisfy human needs. Besides it   should give adequate economic returns and have minimal adverse environmental impact. 


  1. Ajai, A. S., Arya, P. S., Dhinwa, S. K. Pathan and K.G.Raj (2009), Desertification/Land Degradation Status Mapping of India, Current Science, Vol. 97, No. 10.
  2. Bansapal, P.C. (2002), Economic Problems in Indian Agriculture, CBS Publishers and Distributer, New Delhi-110002.
  3. Arrow, K.J., P.Dasgupta, L H. Goulder, K.J. Mumford and K. Oleson (2010), Sustainability and the Measurement of Wealth, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 16599
  4. Chaudhuri, S. and S.K.Ray (2008), An Integrated Summary of NSS 61st Round (July2004-2005) on “Employment and Unemployment Situation in India”, Sarvekshana, 94th Issue, Vol. XXVIII No 3 & 4 December.
  5. Dasgupta, P. (1993), Poverty and Environmental Resource Base, in An Enquiry into Well-Being and Destitution, Oxford University Press UK. Reprinted in U.Sankar (ed) Environmental Economics, Readers in Economics, Oxford University Press, 2001. Paperback: eighth impression 2008.
  6. Government of India (Planning Commission) (2007), Eleventh Five Year Plan, New Delhi.
  7. Kalirajan, K.P., G.Mythili and U.Sankar (2001), Accelerating Growth through Globalization of Indian Agriculture, Macmillan India, New Delhi.
  8. Millennium Economic Assessment (2005), Ecosystems and Human Well-Being Synthesis, Island press, Washington DC.
  9. Sankar, U. (2007), The Economics of India’s Space Programme, Oxford University Press, New Delhi.

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Soil is a non-renewable resource. Its preservation is essential for food security and our sustainable future - Inforgraphic

Soil is a finite resource, meaning its loss and degradation is not recoverable within a human lifespan. As a core component of land resources, agricultural development and ecological sustainability, it is the basis for food, feed, fuel and fibre production and for many critical ecosystem services. It is therefore a highly valuable natural resource, yet it is often overlooked. The natural area of productive soils is limited – it is under increasing pressure of intensification and competing uses for cropping, forestry, pasture / rangeland and urbanization, and to satisfy demands of the growing population for food and energy production and raw materials extraction. Soils need to be recognized and valued for their productive capacities as well as their contribution to food security and the maintenance of key ecosystem services.

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Banana Balangon Project: An Innovation towards Sustainable Development of T'boli and Ubo Farmers in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Philippines

Banana Balangon Project: An innovation Towards Sustainable Development of T’boli and Ubo Farmers in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato Philippines, is a study that mainly aimed to explore the positive and significant changes in the lives of indigenous people in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Philippines as a result of their participation in the innovation-market for organic banana. In addition, the sustainability of the project was also determined in the study. A descriptive exploratory method was employed as a research design that utilized qualitative data measures such as individual and focus group participatory economic valuation, participatory action research, semi-structured interviews, basic necessities survey and SD analyzer. Sixty four (64) T’boli and Ubo farmers were the respondents of the study. In summary, there has been a shift on the respondents’ traditional way of life from traditional hunting and gathering, and slash and burn agriculture, to having a more stable and sustainable source of income through the project.

The study hoped to contribute to the existing literature and studies of organic agriculture and banana production in the Philippines. Secondly, it desired to enrich the available data that would be helpful to the national government and local government units as well as for the farmers of the Banana Balangon Project. Lastly, the study is intended to be useful for the policy makers as to how socio-economic and cultural issues regarding organic agriculture can be addressed.


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Food and nutrition in numbers 2014

Overcoming malnutrition in all of its forms – caloric undernourishment, micronutrient deficiencies and obesity – requires a combination of interventions in different areas that guarantee the availability of and access to healthy diets. Among the key areas, interventions are required in food systems, public health systems and the provision of safe water and sanitation. This pocketbook not only focuses on indicators of food security and nutritional outcomes but also on the determinants that contribute to healthy lives. The pocketbook is structured in two sections: Thematic spreads related to food security and nutrition, including detailed food consumption data collected from national household budget surveys; Comprehensive country and regional profiles with indicators categorized by anthropometry, nutritional deficiencies, supplementation, dietary energy supplies, preceded by their "setting". The setting provides demographic indicators as well as health status indicators based on mortality patterns and the provision of safe water and sanitation. Anthropometry indicators provide information not only on the prevalence of acute and chronic forms of under-nutrition but also on the prevalence of obesity. Their co-existence is often referred to as the double burden of malnutrition. Nutritional deficiency indicators reveal food security issues at the national level based on the adequacy of energy supplies; they also reveal the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies, often referred to as “hidden hunger”. Combined with anthropometric measurements, they allow for the identification of the triple burden of malnutrition (under-nutrition, obesity and hidden hunger). Regarding hidden hunger, indicators concerning iodine and vitamin A have been selected. Dietary indicators are based on national food supplies and inform on the overall quality of diets. Focus is also on the importance of diets during the first 1 000 days of an infant’s life, with indicators selected on the quality of breastfeeding, dietary diversity and meal frequency.

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School feeding and possibilities for direct purchases from family farming

This publication “School feeding and possibilities for direct purchases from family farming in Latin American countries” contributes to the articulation of the sectors involved with school feeding, in the search for alternatives for the institutionalization and strengthening of school feeding policies in the countries; equally, it is hoped that in the medium and long term SFPs can contribute to the human right to food (HRF) and to sustainable human development.

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Healthy soils are the basis for healthy food production

The most widely recognized function of soil is its support for food production. It is the foundation for agriculture and the medium in which nearly all food-producing plants grow. In fact, it is estimated that 95% of our food is directly or indirectly produced on our soils. Healthy soils supply the essential nutrients, water, oxygen and root support that our food-producing plants need to grow and flourish. Soils also serve as a buffer to protect delicate plant roots from drastic fluctuations in temperature.

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Review of Global Food Price Databases

As part of a three-phase project, the Food Security Information Network (FSIN) sponsored a comparative study of the globally managed cross-country price and market information systems to assess complementarities and overlaps.

This report contains a review of these databases in terms of data collection, quality control mechanisms, management, use, analysis methods and tools. It includes recommendations to improve the integration and harmonization of the FAO, WFP and FEWS NET databases, in order to improve efficiency and enhance inter-operability.

A second phase is underway to begin implementing these recommendations, identify gaps in existing guidance, and review how market price data are collected and used in selected countries.

The ultimate objective of the project is to facilitate national capacity development on FSN information systems based on expressed demands.

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A Common Analytical Model for Resilience Measurement

This paper published by the Food Security Information Network (FSIN) proposes a common analytical model that comprises six components upon which resilience measurement may be based. It also:

  • defines resilience capacity as a multi-dimensional, multi-level mediator of shocks and stressors;
  • identifies the points at which data should be collected;
  • highlights the need to collect data on initial states, shocks, subsequent (post-shock) states and contextual influences;
  • proposes how to construct resilience capacity measures using ten categories of indicators;
  • outlines the importance of using multiple (quantitative and qualitative) methods and both objective and subjective indicators; and
  • describes estimation models that might be used to assess the impact of resilience.

The next outputs of the TWG will be short papers which contain guidance in targeted areas of resilience measurement.