Increasing demand for protein
Protein supply was stagnant in India since 1990s, whereas it was significantly and steadily increased for Bangladesh(Figure 3). India was ahead of Bangladesh in protein supply throughout 1990s and 2000s. Chinas protein supply was steeply increased during this period. Developed countries average protein supply was more than 100 grams/capita/day, where as India per capita supply was less than 60 grams/capita/day.
National average fat supply (expressed in grams per capita per day).
Based on Food balance Sheets data, national average fat supply is calculated. The fat supply in India is less than many comparable countries except Bangladesh. In the recent years, most of the developing countries improved their position, even China surpassed world average, but consumption in India is less (Figure 3).
The Prevalence of undernourishment expresses the probability that a randomly selected individual from the population consumes an amount of calories that is insufficient to cover her/his energy requirement for an active and healthy life. The indicator is computed by comparing a probability distribution of habitual daily Dietary Energy Consumption with a threshold level called the Minimum Dietary Energy Requirement. This is the traditional FAO hunger indicator, adopted as official Millennium Development Goal indicator.
Undernourishment is much higher in India compared to world, but decreasing steeply. However, there is wide fluctuation year-on-year mainly due to the high fluctuations in food production and availability for human consumption (Figure 4).
Anaemia among pregnant women
Anaemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells (and consequently their oxygen-carrying capacity) is insufficient to meet the body's physiologic needs. This indicator measures nutritional imbalance and malnutrition resulting in under-nutrition assessed by prevalence of anaemia. The prevalence of anaemia is an important health indicator. When used with other measurements of iron status, the haemoglobin concentration can provide information about the severity of iron deficiency. The cut-off values for public health significance is 40%. A prevalence of Anaemia equal or higher than this level signals a severe public health problem.
The prevalence of anaemia among pregnant women is higher in India even compared to most underdeveloped countries like Kenya, Bangladesh and Egypt (Figure 5).
Depth of food deficit
The depth of the food deficit indicates how many calories would be needed to lift the undernourished from their status, everything else being constant. The average intensity of food deprivation of the undernourished, estimated as the difference between the average dietary energy requirement and the average dietary energy consumption of the undernourished population (food-deprived), is multiplied by the number of undernourished to provide an estimate of the total food deficit in the country, which is then normalized by the total population. Depth of food deficit is an indicator of severity of food deficit among different countries. In this indicator India is better than Africa, but falling behind all other developing countries (Figure 6).
Per capita food production variability
Per capita food production variability corresponds to the variability of the net food production value in constant 2004-2006 prices divided by the population number. Even though, percapita food production variability index is much higher in India, domestic food grain prices volatility is low compared to China and other developing countries mainly due to the stable Minimum Support Prices and Public Distribution System (Figure 7).
Domestic food price index
The Domestic Food Price Level Index is an indicator of the relative price of food in a country. Specifically, the ratio of food to actual individual consumption is calculated in purchasing power parity terms relative to the United States. The domestic food prices in India are stable, when compared to the other developing countries like China (Figure 8). The lower increase in food price index in India is an indicator of increase in competitiveness of food products in India compared to world. However, the increase in prices of protein rich food like pulses and animal sources of protein is a cause of concern, given the increase in the demand for protein foods.
Domestic Food Price Volatility
The Domestic Food Price Volatility Index measures the variability in the relative price of food in a country. In India the price volatility is less compared to most of the countries, as a result of nationwide food procurement system at minimum support price (Figure 9).
The FAO food and nutrition indicators are a good indicators for the year-to-year cross comparison of the countries position in food and nutrition security. Although, India improved its relative position over the years, still it is lagging behind many developing countries in food, nutrition and health indicators. Consumption of calories is less in India compared to the world and even compared to African countries. Bangladesh overtaken India in the early 2000s. Protein consumption was also less. The fat supply in India is less than many comparable countries except Bangladesh. Undernourishment is much higher in India compared to world, but decreasing steeply. However, there is wide fluctuation year-on-year mainly due to the high fluctuations in food production and availability of food due to abnormal rainfall. The prevalence of anaemia among pregnant women is higher in India even compared to most underdeveloped countries like Kenya, Bangladesh and Egypt.
Depth of food deficit is an indicator of severity of food deficit among different countries. In this indicator, India is falling behind all the developing countries except Africa. Even though, percapita food production variability index is much higher in India, domestic food grain prices volatility is low compared to China and other developing countries mainly due to the stable minimum support prices and wider public distribution system. The lower increase in food price index in India is an indicator of increase in competitiveness and sustainability of food production in India compared to world. However, the increase in prices of protein rich food like pulses and animal sources of protein is a cause of concern.
Although the dietary energy supply in India was increased over the years, it is very much lower than China, but almost equivalent to Bangladesh. Level of malnutrition, anaemia, underweight among children was comparatively high even compared to some of the African countries. To reduce malnutrition levels, the Indian food security basket should also include not only rice and wheat, but also needs to be diversified in to pulses, oilseeds and other protein rich products.
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Narayanan S (2014) The National Food Security Act vis-ŕ-vis the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, February 1, 2014 vol xlix no 5 EPW Economic & Political Weekly.
IRADE(2007) Extension of MSP: Fiscal and Welfare Implications, A study for the Planning Commission) October 2007Principal Scientist (Agricultural Economics)
Indian Agricultural Research Institute
Indian Agricultural Research Institute