New Delhi: India will need to spend $74 billion, or double what it currently does, in social protection programmes, rural development and agriculture annually over the next 15 years to eradicate hunger by 2030, according to a new UN report.
An average of $267 billion is required annually at the global level to sustainably eliminate hunger, according to the report published by UN bodies—the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme.
Globally, close to 800 million people still do not get enough to eat despite the progress made in recent years, the report said. With nearly 195 million undernourished people in India, the country is home to a quarter of the world’s hungry.
At the current pace of poverty reduction, the world will still have more than 650 million people suffering from hunger in 2030, the report said.
“This is why we are championing an approach that combines social protection with additional targeted investments in rural development, agriculture and urban areas that will chiefly benefit the poor,” FAO director general José Graziano da Silva said while releasing the report last week.
“Our report estimates that this will require a total investment of some $267 billion per year over the next 15 years. Given that this is more or less equivalent to 0.3% of the global GDP (gross domestic product), I personally think it is a relatively small price to pay to end hunger,” he added.
India needs to spend $33.4 billion in poverty-gap transfers to bring the poorest to an income level of $1.25 per day—the global poverty line determined by the World Bank—according to the report. India will also have to spend $40.7 billion in agriculture and rural development.
This would cost India Rs.4.69 trillion ($74 billion) annually, or 2.53% of its GDP.
“Clearly, this shows that our spending on food security and rural development is not sufficient to achieve the zero-hunger target,” said Himanshu, associate professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. “This is not a staggering amount and means India need to double its spending. What it requires is a political commitment to end hunger.”
Currently, India’s central spending on agriculture, rural development and food subsidy amounts to $37 billion (Rs.2.32 trillion).
While many may see social protection simply as consumption, the evidence is strong and growing that even modest savings will be deployed by the poor to enhance their productive capacities and their incomes, the report said.
Social protection in the form of cash transfers will eliminate hunger immediately, it noted, adding that public investments in rural areas could be through small-scale irrigation projects, creating infrastructure such as roads, food processing and stronger institutional support like access to credit and markets.