ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

COVID and Food SecuritySubscribe to COVID and Food Security

India’s Free Food Politics

Is the government’s food relief package abetting destitution rather than alleviating it?

Health and Nutrition of India’s Labour Force and COVID-19 Challenges

Can the “post-COVID-19 normal” emerge better for India’s food supply and demand management, with a clear goal of zero hunger? Presently contributing one-third of the global undernutrition burden, a daunting challenge that the country must overcome now is of resuming broader based economic growth with a healthy labour force. Given this, India needs a data-driven exit and post-exit strategy from the COVID-19 lockdown that will not only mitigate the immediate food crisis faced by millions of poor households, but also reduce the long-term structural bottlenecks that limit poor households’ access to food.

COVID-19’s Disruption of India’s Transformed Food Supply Chains

COVID-19 has created high transaction costs and uncertainty in India’s transformed food supply chains, putting food security at risk as 92% of food consumption in India is purchased, predominantly from the private sector. Government faces the challenge of marshalling resources between mitigating the impending food crisis and containing the contagion as the risk of sociopolitical tensions looms large. It is recommended that the government concentrate on sustaining the food supply chains towards eventual rebound, recognising that government food distribution cannot replace even a tenth of the market.

India’s Food System in the Time of COVID-19

India’s complete lockdown has caused unnecessary disruptions in the food supply chain, with the scarcity of labour making it even worse. A sharp decline in demand is imminent with the financial sector being in a freeze and incomes having shrunk for everyone, except for the small salaried class. Consumer sentiment and business outlook on recovery are bleak. While ensuring the free movement of essential goods and availability and safety of labour can mitigate the immediate disruptions in the supply chain, unclogging the financial sector and restoring optimism in the market will take time and heroic efforts from the government.

Abrupt Planning, Looming Hunger

Policy short-sightedness makes millions face the trade-off between the pandemic and starvation deaths.
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