Three districts – Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, Koraput in Odisha and Thane in Maharashtra – will initiate India’s ambitious ‘Zero Hunger’ programme through interventions in farm sector on October 16 (World Food Day).
Though many more districts will eventually be covered under this dedicated farm-based programme in sync with India’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end hunger by 2030, these three would act as a model of an integrated approach to deal with hunger and malnutrition by adopting suitable agricultural\horticultural practices.
The Programme will be initiated by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation and the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).
The concerned state governments will also be involved in the programme which consists of organisations of the farming system for nutrition, setting up genetic gardens for biofortified plants/crops and initiation of a ‘Zero Hunger’ training.
A genetic garden for biofortified plants/crops contains the germplasm of naturally biofortified crops or such crops through plant breeding. It has plants and crops that help supplement micro-nutrient deficiencies, including iron, iodine, vitamin A and zinc among others.
Globally, one in nine people in the world today (795 million) are undernourished
The vast majority of the world’s hungry people live in developing countries, where 12.9% of the population is undernourished.
Asia is the continent with the most hungry people – two-thirds of the total. The percentage in southern Asia has fallen in recent years but in western Asia, it has increased slightly.
Southern Asia faces the greatest hunger burden, with about 281 million undernourished people. In sub-Saharan Africa, projections for the 2014-2016 period indicate a rate of undernourishment of almost 23 percent.
Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45 percent) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year.
One in four of the world’s children suffers from stunted growth. In developing countries, the proportion can rise to one in three.
66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.