“Aquatic food is low on carbon footprints, high on nutrition, and has potential to address hunger and reduce burden of global diseases”, says Dr Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, Winner of 2021 World Food Prize
- India share largest number of global hunger and under-nourish population.
- Aquatic food is a superfood which has the largest potential of addressing hunger and malnutrition problem.
- Indian government should include aquatic foods into national food-based dietary guidelines.
- Odisha government paved the way. It has included Fish in the meals of children in 50 Anganwadis (child care centers), in Mayurbhanj district.
Chennai (9 August 2021):- National and regional government should include aquatic foods into national food-based dietary guidelines and make public procurement of aquatic foods for school feeding and social safety net programme.
This was the call made by the Dr Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, Winner of 2021 World Food Prize, during delivering of lecture at the International Consultation on “Ensuring Food and Nutrition Security in the Context of Climate Change and the COVID-19 Pandemic”, organized by the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in Chennai.
Dr. Thilsted, Indian descent, native of Trinidad and Tobago and a citizen of Denmark is Global Lead for Nutrition and Public Health, at the WorldFish.
National Policy-makers, Scientists, and the Global experts on Climate Change, Agriculture, Food and Nutrition has been attending the high-level three-day virtual event. Earlier, The International consultation was inaugurated by the Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Thiru M K Stalin, on August 6, 2021. The conference will end on August 10, 2021.
Dr Thilsted has done groundbreaking research, critical insights and landmark innovations in developing holistic, nutrition-sensitive approaches to aquaculture and food systems.
“Incorporate diverse aquatic foods in national and state food-based dietary guidelines and promote context-specific and regionally-appropriate research on multiple benefits of aquatic foods, food safety, consumer demand, and strengthening supply chains”, says Dr Thilsted.
Dr Thilsted emphasized over mainstreaming of diverse aquatic food as it has the lowest carbon footprints among all major animal source foods like Beef and Pork, and it is highly bio available – can be absorbed and used by human body.
Aquatic food is a huge potential to be processed as nutritious, safe and accessible food-based products. She listed out number of peer reviewed researches which show how lack of consumption of fish and seafood contributing to global burden of diseases.
“A low diet in fish and seafood is responsible for 1% of the world’s total burden of disease-related disability-adjusted life years (DALY) and it causing 1.4 million global deaths due to low seafood omega-3 fatty acids”, says Dr Thilsted.
One DALY represents the loss of the equivalent of one year of full health. DALYs for a disease or health condition are the sum of the years of life lost to due to premature mortality (YLLs) and the years lived with a disability (YLDs) due to prevalent cases of the disease or health condition in a population.
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased poverty and has put up to 132 million more people were hungry, around 124 million people were pushed into extreme poverty, 114 million people lost jobs, higher in women (5%) than in men, and higher in youth (9%) compared to older workers.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has affected food security and threatened livelihood opportunities for millions of people. Its impact is stalling the global efforts to meet the “Zero Hunger” challenge and crushing livelihood opportunities.
At the same time, vulnerabilities on account of Global warming and other aspects of climate change are intensifying floods and droughts, in turn affecting food production and livelihoods. The temperature rise created a significant impact on food production and nutrition security.
In this context, the MSSRF organizing a three-day consultation to understand the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the time of climate change and to find solutions to food and nutrition insecurity concerns while addressing issues of livelihoods.
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. The Foundation aims to accelerate use of modern science for sustainable agricultural and rural development. MSSRF focuses specifically on tribal and rural communities with a pro-poor, pro-women and pro-nature approach. The Foundation applies appropriate science and technology options to address practical problems faced by rural populations in agriculture, food and nutrition.
“It would be right time where governments can intervene and make aquatic food accessible to all especially vulnerable groups to help them come out from hunger”, says Dr Thilsted.
Dr Madhura Swaminathan, Chairperson of the MSSRF, who was chairing the lecture session, said that by thanking the Odisha Government for introducing the fish and other aquatic food in School Meal Programme in collaboration with WorldFish and MSSRF”.
Earlier, sessions on Climate Change and Nutrition Security, and Contribution of Fisheries in providing Food and Nutrition Security taken place. Global and National Food and Nutrition experts addressed different aspects of challenges.