What Is Food Insecurity? – Definition, Statistics, challenges and Solutions


Overview of Food Insecurity:

The prevalence of hunger continues due to the interplay of social, economic, and geo-political matters that restricts food circulation across the world. The regulations of many countries have been leading to growing income disparity resulting in one section of the society starving of the food while the other enjoying the lavish lifestyle. In this article, we would be focussing on how the world is facing food insecurity problems. We will also discuss how India has been carb the effects of food insecurity despite a lot of government support.

Food insecurity, food insecurity statistics, food insecurity definition, food insecurity in India, solutions for food insecurity
Food insecurity

Food Insecurity Definition

Food insecurity denotes a dearth of access to sufficient good, healthy, and aesthetically appropriate food.

Food Insecurity USDA

According to the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA), food insecurity is the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways. The USDA was founded by Abraham Lincoln in 1862. The USDA is responsible for overseeing farming, ranching, and forestry industries, as well as regulating aspects of food quality & safety and nutrition labelling.

Food insecurity, food insecurity statistics, food insecurity definition, food insecurity in India, solutions for food insecurity
Food Insecurity Definition

 Food Insecurity Statistics

According to UNICEF:

  •         More than 820 million people in the world were still hungry in 2018, underscoring the immense challenge of achieving the Zero Hunger target by 2030
  •         Hunger is on the rise in almost all African subregions, making Africa the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment. Hunger is also slowly rising in Latin America and the Caribbean, while Western Asia shows a continuous increase since 2010, with more than 12 per cent of its population undernourished today.
  •         11% of the world’s population is undernourished – this means they have a caloric intake below minimum energy requirements
  •         820 million people globally are undernourished
  •         9% of the world population – around 697 million people – are severely food insecure
  •         One-in-four people globally – 1.9 billion – are moderately or severely food insecure.


Food Insecurity in India

Notwithstanding approximately more than 30 years of solid economic growth since the 1990s, and recent surplus production of exportable food products like wheat and rice, India remains to be topping the list of countries with maximum share in food insecurity. The Government of India has been spending a huge chunk of revenue on promoting agriculture. Yet, the country has been facing an acute shortage of certain food products.

Food insecurity, food insecurity statistics, food insecurity definition, food insecurity in India, solutions for food insecurity
Food Insecurity In India

Causes of Food Insecurity In India

Let us have a look at some of the typical reasons for food insecurity in India: 

  •         Faulty Distribution network.
  •         Poor nutrition programs.
  •         Poverty among tribal communities.
  •         Unequal distribution of national wealth.
  •         Inefficient economic policies towards food security.
  •         Excess importance for industrialization.
  •         Poor Monsoons.
  •         Foreign trade policies.

Adaptation approaches and policy reactions to climate change, efficient management water allocation, land-use models, food supply chain, measures for food processing, and safety are immediately considered necessary.

Food insecurity, food insecurity statistics, food insecurity definition, food insecurity in India, solutions for food insecurity
Food Insecurity In India

Role of Population Growth in Food Security

Though India being the largest democracy and the most populous country, a significant proportion of the population suffers hunger and deaths due to food insecurity. According to the report United Nations Population Fund, India is facing challenges on two major grounds

  •         Population Explosion which has been exceeding the domestic agricultural output.
  •         Inequitable distribution of food due to low purchasing power.

Even under the assumption that the food supply chain is efficiently managed to carve the negative effects of population growth, the agricultural growth rate should be sustained at a steady 4.5 % to sustain an overall economic growth of 7 %. In these conditions, it is frightening that the normal size of operational land holdings has come down to below 1.6 hectares in 1990-91 from 2.3 hectares in 1970-71.

Solutions for Food Insecurity

Thankfully, emerging technologies have brought far-reaching solutions for food security problems that are arising across the world. The technology required to eliminate food security may be country and region-specific. It may depend on the culture, climate, infrastructure, governance system, literacy rate, and physical environment of the region.

In developing countries like India, the technology to ensure food security may range from land analysis, seed production, water, and soil testing, storage analysis, harvesting, packaging, transporting to the markets, marketing, and finally distribution of food products to the end-users of the country. Below is the description of challenges, available technologies, and how they solve the problem of food insecurity.

Challenges Technologies How technology helps in food security
Draining Underground Water Level Using Surface water Water is the main resource for agriculture development. These technologies help in saving and effective utilization of water for irrigation purposes
Low-cost plastic tanks
Small ponds and dumps
Canal irrigation
Drip Irrigation
Sprinkling and micro sprinkling Irrigation
Stabilized silicic for drought survival
Irrigation Decision Support System
Rainwater harvesting
Wastewater reuse
Sensor installation for underground water identification
Soil Problem Using Organic fertilizers Many times, poor soil quality reduces the number of crops. These technologies can be used to improve the volume of agricultural products
Biogas digesters
Nitrogen fixation into the soil
Soil testing and treatment
Protection of the crop Imaging analytics Security for the grown crops is a major issue in India. Technologies like drones, robots, sensors would help a farmer in keeping an eye on the crop all the time
Using Drones to supervision
IoT devices for 24*7 monitoring
Leveraging big data analytics
Alert systems
Forming Restrictions Indoor farming in urban areas Since the industries have consumed a lot of irrigation land in the country, it is necessary to find out alternative places for growing agricultural products.
Indoor farming techniques
Electricity Problems Diesel Generators Energy is a serious problem in developing countries like India. Solar panels, generators would be used as an alternative for seasonal electricity that is currently supplied for agriculture
Solar Panels
Electric Storage Batteries
Animal Usage for pumping water
Post-Harvest Management Cold Storage for protecting flowers and fruits Once the crops are grown and ready for harvesting, the storage problem arises. India does not have sufficient storage systems. So these technologies would help farmers and traders in preserving crops for a certain duration
Hexanal Formation
Bio wax coating
Rice Parboiling
Using nanotechnology
Hermetic sealing
Online analysis of vitamin-based crops
Infrared for understanding the crop stress
Drones for understanding environmental changes
Analysis of weather reports
Supply Chain Management Road, Rail, Water and Air Transport depending on the durability of the products The distribution network in developing countries like India still needs improvements. Therefore, the governments have been spending huge money in improving the modes of transports
Regulating the circulation of agricultural products within the country
Media support for understanding the disparities in supply


Factors Interrupting the Flow of Food from the Point of Source to the People

The demand for food products is expected to grow by 70% by 2050. But, the burning problem is not seeding and growing the food grains. In India, it is the level of population, poverty, internal infrastructure, and inadequate distribution system that produces the food products. Further, foodborne diseases are rising in number year after another that affects children, the young generation, farmers, traders, and the country at large. Foodborne health issues may pose a serious threat to the economy of the country since it would require social, economic, and human costs. The governments would have spent a lot of money to control foodborne diseases.

For example, considering the ongoing COVID-19 impediments, developing countries like India and China are hesitant to import food products from countries of excess food products. The Indian Government is not showing interest in importing food products even from its traditional trader partners since it would also invite COVID-19 into the country.

The reports show that the world has enough food products to cater to the needs of the whole world. However, the distribution system, supply chain network is controlled by the governments of the countries. It may be due to a poor distribution network, strong political interest, political stability. Often, even when the country is willing to accept the food products from other countries, it may not have ports and air networks to connect with other countries. 

The United Nations has a greater role to play in terms of helping developing countries like India in overcoming some of the traditional challenges. Since India is a populous country with limited infrastructure for leveraging agricultural products, it is necessary to seek external support on various aspects listed below:

  •         Investing in creating the necessary infrastructure for the agriculture
  •         Providing advance agricultural technologies for improving the output
  •         Providing research and training support for improving the technical know-how for enhancing the agriculture output.
  •         Extend support to stimulate grassroots efforts
  •         Help India in fishing not by offering the fish by itself
  •         Provide long term financial loans to improving agriculture infrastructure
  •         Help country in safeguarding natural resources like water, soil and minerals

The food insecurity problems are likely to worsen due to the rapid growth of population, rising demand for biofuels, climate change excessive industrialization across the world. Therefore, there is a need to foresee beyond traditional agricultural systems and existing technologies if the problem of food insecurity to be solved. It would require a reconsideration of current food security policies for developing the ecosystem for food production within and beyond the current agricultural infrastructure. Reuse of existing resources, application of cutting-edge technologies, strengthening the supply chain network for agricultural products, and removal of country-specific restrictions for the movement of food products by promoting food sovereignty are essential steps to be taken to solve this problem.

I hope you enjoyed the read. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.


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About Pavan kumar C

Pavankumar Chandrappa is an excellent academic writer, learning designer, research scholar, and blogger in the management domain. He has more than a decade of blended experience in academia and industry with great exposure to writing on various paradigms of business management. He has published a series of research papers on various paradigms of learning. You can access his detailed biography by typing"Pavankumar Chandrappa" on google search.

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