Number of hungry risen, UN report: Integration of agriculture, nutrition and health is the way out, says Prof Swaminathan
A report of the United Nations released on June 20, 2018 points out that the number of hungry people in the world has risen for the first time in more than a decade. There are now approximately 38 million more undernourished people in the world than in 2015. This is an enigma because considerable political, professional, public and media attention has now been paid on methods of eliminating the curse of malnutrition which has an adverse impact on both physical and mental capabilities. Malnourishment in young children and pregnant mothers leads to the impairment of cognitive abilities in the student. Why is this enigma persisting and what is the way out? In my view, all the three major forms of hunger viz., calorie deprivation, protein hunger and hidden hunger caused by micronutrient deficiency can be overcome speedily if agriculture, nutrition and health are viewed in an integrated manner.
This is particularly true in predominantly agricultural countries like India. It is time that we don’t take such statistics lightly and treat them just as statistics, since the malnutrition data has lasting implications leading to intellectual and physical dwarfism. It will be a great disservice to those suffering from avoidable malnutrition if we do not take steps to provide them with opportunities for a productive and healthy life. We should particularly be aware that there is a way out of this hunger trap and there is no excuse for not caring for the implementation of a malnutrition-free society.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.