Dr. Sumanth Chinthala
1. How should real-time monitoring be designed and utilized to strengthen existing early warning systems and support preventative policy responses to food crisis risk.
The real time monitoring be performed in 4 stages
Stage 1: Spatial data collectors (individual or an organization) has to be identified.
A mobile based application can be used for monitoring the data of the approximate amount of food that is generated through agriculture in a particular area after a particular time. An individual in a village or an organization in a village can use this application for adding the data in the mobile application from time to time.
Stage 2: Identification of a regional data transfer point for monitoring
Many of the spatial data collectors are associated with a research institute nearby. The research institute can become a nodal point in getting the data systematically and the institution may help in getting data in those places where individuals and organizations could not get. This can be possible by collaborating with research institutions which can get the data from the students who hail from different villages and help in getting the data. The student groups and clubs associated with social service wings can play a crucial role in mobilizing the real time data which is crucial .
Stage 3: Incorporating the risk coefficients in the region
After the collection of the data at regular intervals, the risk coefficients in the region can be assigned based on crop loss due to floods and droughts, lack of transport etc. Based on the risks associated, the food shortage can be estimated. For instance, in many cases mango trees get heavily damaged due to sudden rains just before harvest. In such cases wide damage is reported but not estimated. Under such circumstances, the data from the spatial data collectors and institutes can help us in identifying the crop loss and inturn the productivity can be estimated and inturn the shortage can be predicted.
Stage 4: Identification of action plans and the way forward
After the identification of the risks, suitable action plans can be formulated to reduce the food shortage risk. For instance, a specially dedicated freight train was inaugurated to transport the turmeric produced in South India to Bangladesh where it is not available. It was planned based on the expected productivity in that area. On a similar lines, a dedicated train for farmers and food products was launched to supply the fruits from one location where they are in excess to the place where they are needed.
3. Local food prices are one way to get a temperature check of local market conditions, but high frequency local market price data is not widely available. Where are the gaps such as this one in real-time monitoring and how can these be addressed both in a research and policy context?
The local food prices are generally published in a local print/electronic media which is generally telecasted in a local or a regional language. As a result, the data cannot be extracted due to the language barrier. Involving more ground level volunteers is one of the ways to bridge this gap.
In the policy context, we need a permanent administrative body which can be made accountable for acquiring this data. If this is not possible, the existing institutions should set up a wing which collects this data along with the volunteers.
4. Advances in early warning technologies and data must be matched by developing capacity within institutions at the country and regional level to transform relevant data into preventative actions. What is needed to initiate and scale up the use of real-time monitoring in early warning early action systems by regional organizations, national governments, and other country level institutions?
Scaling up needs more trained volunteers or staff members who can execute the task of real time monitoring. Many educational institutions have rules which specify that a student should work for certain hours for a social cause to meet the requirements of the course. Such students must be trained and should be involved in the real time data monitoring task by using suitable tools. Since a student stays at an educational institute for 3-4 years, it will be easy if the student is trained to aquire the necessary data in his vicinity. Further, all the educational institutions should make social service mandatory and under these social service initiatives, these trained volunteers in large numbers should be deployed at various locations to complete the tasks. These trained volunteers should be allocated under regional organizations, national governments and other country level institutions to complete the tasks of real time monitoring.
Additionally, many young researchers in various countries are given financial assistance in higher educational institutions. In return, the researchers should dedicate their time to the assigned tasks within the institute. Their services should be utilized to train the young volunteers who can collect the real time data.
In many instances, the governments try to train their existing staff members for executing a new task or using a new tool. This was found to be ineffective in many instances because the government employees are burdened by this extra assignment and as a result, the tasks were found to be incomplete inspite of spending a lot of resources and time.
5. Over the years, a series of different early warming early action systems have been developed by various organizations. How could greater collaboration among the various tools and approaches facilitate their effectiveness in driving policy responses?
Greater collaboration among various tools enable the development of a single platform where data can be made available. When data is made available, various trends and factors affecting the variations in the data can be easily understandable and as a result it would be easier to draft the plan of action and subsequent drafting of policies.
Secondly, if an approach is failed/successful, the collaborators can eventually scale up/ignore the approach and act accordingly which may result in saving efforts and time in improving the situation at a local, regional and global scale.
3) Towards an inclusive and equitable growth
Improving the productivity and sustainability of small-scale family farmers alone will not be sufficient to achieve the UNDFF milestones or SDG goals in the NENA region. The engagement of adolescents and youth, women and individuals in vulnerable situations such as migrants, will be critical to long term, inclusive and equitable growth.
Based on your experience, what are effective strategies, instruments or mechanisms to ensure adequate access to services, resources and social protection among marginalized or vulnerable groups, including in humanitarian contexts?
Despite the informality of the agriculture sector, any support for smallholder family farming can and should go hand in hand with the promotion of the Decent work Agenda. Family farmers are engaged in arduous and sometimes hazardous work to cut costs and compensate for the farm’s low productivity to an extent of involving children too, based on your experience please give three priority actions to enable decent employment for rural smallholders, youth and women and to eliminate child labour in family farming.
Setting up of textile industry components like woolen clothes can help in providing decent employment to women for rural communities. The women have to weave the clothes from the raw material which is sent to them from the supplier. The strategy is to provide basic employment by utilizing the man power at a nominal cost.
Generally, International bodies help the flood victims across the world by providing financial aid directly. Instead, it can provide material supplies like garments which are woven by the women in these rural areas. Those international bodies can pay for the services and the finished product is sent to the victims across different countries during natural calamaties.
A similar approach can be made when we see an excess production of food in few countries where storage is not possible. For instance, rice production in India sometimes was found to be very high and as a result a lot of food is wasted. If that rice is transported to NENA countries and converted into other products like Puffed rice etc, the product can be either consumed in the countries to meet the hunger. Additionally, pickle/ketchup/Jam manufacturing units can be set up by transporting food that is excess in any nearby country.
4) Enabling environment for the implementation of UNDFF
Building an enabling environment for the implementation of UNDFF regional action plan means that there are adequate resources and that governance and institutional arrangements are effective and inclusive.
How do you define roles of Governments, development agencies, farmers’ organizations, civil society and private sector in implementing the UNDFF in the region?
Governments and Development agencies
Governments and development agencies should play a crucial role in data collection because all the objectives and targets that are to be achieved are data driven. The governments should either deploy more workforce or take the help of organizations and universities to get the data that is crucial for the execution of the tasks.
Civil society should focus on solutions which can help the farmers indirectly by their systematic contribution. For instance, a small initiative in the waste management sector by the civil society in the urban and rural areas can provide the necessary compost and fertilizer to the farming communities at a cheaper and affordable rates. The civil society should focus on gathering resources, gaining expertise and developing a product and transport the product the local farming communities where the fertilizer is in demand. The farming community may help the residents by providing food products at a lower rate. However this initiative needs guidance and support from experts across the world.
Private sector can help in identifying and scaling up small scale technologies which are needed for achieving the objectives. Setting up of small scale industries can be easily achieved with marginal profits with the intervention of the private sector. For instance, few firms have developed a battery driven tractor for ploughing fields which is much economical than the conventional diesel vehicle. Such technologies can be transferred to these countries to enable the farmers and inturn contribute to the upliftment of various sectors in NENA countries.
Partnerships associated with sustainable development initiatives can create synergies to address interconnected challenges that need to be addressed. With the aim to implement the UNDFF action plan in its seven pillars in the NENA region,
How can innovative partnerships be built and established? And how/what existing initiatives would you propose to replicate or scale up?
Scaling up of initiatives that were already taken up and that are to be taken up needs mentoring from the trained experts all over the world. For that we have to develop few of these partnerships.
Partnership with Software agencies for Providing Digital connectivity
A partnership with leading software agencies is the need of the hour for collecting data and for analysis of the outputs. We may need to use few softwares where we can map the areas and systematically analyze the data to track the progress of our objectives. The necessary tools have to be identified and the partnership with relevant agencies should be established as early as possible.
Partnership with Local universities
Local universities should identify potential “change makers” who can train the local people on various technologies which can improve agriculture. These change makers are to be trained by training agencies through online mode. The training agencies must be requested to train them for this cause. Further the local universities can help in identifying key challenges and help in local logistic support for execution of the tasks
Partnership with Training agencies and Individual Researchers for capacity building
Many training agencies across the world charge for providing the training. A small initiative of training a couple of participants for free or at a discounted cost as a part of collaboration can help in capacity building in the NENA countries in the long run. Further, there might be individual researchers in various educational and research institutions across the world who can contribute willingly to provide the necessary training. Their online training and support can help the change makers to gain the necessary expertise. These change makers under the mentorship of the experts can further help in scaling up of the training facilities in the respective countries.
Partnership with Airline travel partners
Few Air line travel agencies has emerging as a new gateway to Africa in the recent years. This connectivity option can help NENA countries in many ways. Firstly, many transit passengers use different Airlines across key cities in africa. A fund raising center or an Information desk in airports where the transit passengers can contribute funds or any other resources or help in any form will help in achieving goals at a faster rate. This center can not only highlight the tasks that are being carried out but also will help in reaching more experts in various fields who can contribute for this cause.
Call for experiences and effective policy approaches in addressing food security and nutrition in the context of changing rural-urban dynamics
When the urban rural dynamics are changing rapidly, the following policy approaches can be considered for addressing the nutrition and food security aspects. The current approach can be effectively implemented in countries like India. The necessary aspects on social and economic equality, Food systems, Governance and Sustainability have been explained in detail.
1. Social and economic equality
This section discusses exclusively on nutrition aspect.
Nutrition among the individuals is significantly affected by the following factors:
(a) Availability of nutritious food to the individuals
(b) Cost of nutritious food in individuals
(c) Awareness on nutritious food to the individuals
(d) Identification of nutrition levels in communities and individuals
(a) Availability & cost of nutritious food to the individuals In urban context availability and cost of the nutritious food is an issue because many people cant afford it. In India we need the following policy to bridge the gap Policy: Government controlled Low cost food outlets with nutritious food items with one time payment option and redeemable for a long period is an effective sustainable policy which is needed. Examples: Amma Canteens in South Indian state of Tamilnadu, India is a good example of how government has provided food at low cost. On a similar lines, the delhi government is planning to launch Aaam aadmi canteens for providing nutritious food at low cost.
(b) Identification of nutrition levels in communities The levels of hemoglobin in blood gives us a good indication on the nutrition levels of the individual to an extent. Since, it is tough to verify the haemoglobin levels of every individual, checking of haemogloblin at blood donation camps is a cost effective way where the nutrition levels can be tracked. Our experience in Delhi has worked well where we have identified many individuals above 18 years have lesser haemoglobin levels and alerted many individuals about their nutrition levels. Depending up on the severity of the issue, awareness information on nutritional requirements has been provided for those people whose haemoglobin levels were found to be too low. Based on this the following change is recommended
Policy Change: Conduct a certain number of blood donation mandatory in organizations, institutes and firms can help us in tracking the people who has nutrition related deficiency.
(c) Awareness on nutritious food to Individuals
This can be done in a three stage activity
1. Identification of graduates in sciences fields related to food, nutrition
2. Train them with expert doctor’s guidance about how to inform communities
3. Trained professionals inturn conduct awareness sessions in firms, educational institutes as a part of Corporate social responsibility activities 4. Trained executives shall further travel to rural communities to address the issues of nutrition funded by the organizations which has to perform corporate social responsibility activities.
Policy change: Make nutrition related awareness session in firms, educational institutes mandatory in once in three months (to address the nutrition aspects in different seasons)
In the urban areas, most of the people are forced to eat in restaurant’s café’s atleast once in a day due to the work culture and other related factors. As a result people don’t have information on the nutritional requirements everytime they eat. Hence at all the restaurants and food outlets, the information on the number of calories, proteins and carbohydrates etc have to be given in the following form
Policy change: Menu cards in restaurants must show the information on the calories, proteins etc on the every food item in the list along with the cost.
(i) Collecting the data on the sale of seeds and collecting information of the farmers and the field locations. Currently this data is not available online and as a result, we never know whether a crop productivity is going to be less or more. Once the data is collected and predicted date at which you get the product is obtained, the data shall be then used to identify the extent to which the food security is serious. In countries like India, we sometimes have excess of tomatoes grown most of them were thrown away by the farmers. Instead they can be sent to proper storage places where the food can be used elsewhere
Proposed policy: Everytime a farmer buys seeds from a dealer, the dealer should take the data of how much seeds he has sold and where is the location of the farm where the seeds are being sown. This collected data can enable us to predict the total amount of crop that is estimated after the growth period.
(ii) Transport reforms for food transport in rural and urban areas
On one side, vegetables which were thrown away in rural areas due to lack of proper support price and on the other side the same vegetables are bought at a higher cost by the consumers in cities. This is because the food transportation mechanism is not planned between consumers in cities and farmers in the rural areas. Due to the presence of multiple transfer channels, a lot of food is wasted in between.
Proposed Policy: An online demand/supply channel for food products has to be generated so as to check where the goods has to be delivered and from where the goods has to be picked. Based on this demand/supply channel, transportation plans shall be made to optimize the time and distance travelled by the food products to reach consumers. This will eliminate the middle men and ensure that more nutritious food is reached in the urban areas. Few experiments on this bases have been conducted by few individuals at a small scale. However, a large scale application of this project is yet to be made in the Indian context.
The following policies can enable to solve the problems
Temporary provision of storage spaces
Schools and colleges in towns mostly don’t function on weekends. The space in the premises can be used for storing food/ providing farmers to sell their products temporarily and the transportation mechanism should be planned in such a way that the food reaches the city during weekends and gets distributed during the same period. This shall also provide employment opportunities for youth by working on weekends.
Handling climate change: In this section handling climate change issues during drought and unpredictable rains are discussed.
Reducing losses due to winds
It is evident that most of the crop is lost during unpredictable rains accompanied with winds. The main reason is that there are no barriers to reduce the speed of the winds which flow through the farms. Since farmers cannot invest in taking measures for growing plant species to tackle wind speeds, the corporates should be allowed to fund the farmers to grow the species which reduces the wind speeds.
Urban waste as a source to reduce evaporation
Many sources in urban areas may be effectively used to reduce evaporation from the tanks in rural areas. The usage of scrap tyres, unused pet bottles, plastics etc can reduce the losses due to evaporation and ensure that water availability for a longer time and thus reduces crop losses during drought
Protecting pollinators like bees is not possible without involving various stakeholders in the mission. In the following example in south India, a women enterpreneur is training unemployed women to setup their bee farms so that the production of honey will provide income to them. The story of her success is shared in the following link.
Dr. Sumanth Chinthala
Please find the attachment containing the details of the strategies needed to adapt the climate change