New Delhi: With climate change set to pose immediate and long-term threats, the 2018 Global Food Policy Report released by US-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has stressed on the urgent need to take steps to adapt to climate change, which poses serious implications for food security in South Asia, especially India.
The report, which was released on Tuesday, highlights that South Asia is highly vulnerable to climate change, as climate variables such as temperature, rainfall, flooding, and drought increasingly affect agricultural activities in the region. “There was a sizeable drop in rainy season foodgrain production in India and Sri Lanka, due to flooding in several states last year," it notes.
Emphasizing that climate change is the most pressing issue facing the region, the report prepared by the US-based think tank states that the issue is bound to have serious implications for the food security of its already vulnerable population, especially India, which is home to roughly 70% of South Asia’s poor.
“The food systems in South Asia are at a crossroads. Increasing climatic variability, extreme weather events, and rising temperatures pose new challenges to ensuring food and nutrition security in the region," the report stated, and spelt out how South Asian countries weathered some form of natural calamity or the other in 2017.
In the background of rising concerns about protectionism, the report also flagged the need for global cooperation amid growing tensions over climate change. “Building resilience to climate shocks and strengthening climate-smart agriculture will be increasingly critical," it stated.
Mentioning poverty and malnutrition as other teething issues, the report underlined the need to strengthen global integration of national food systems to meet future demand.
“In 2016, two of every five stunted children lived in the region. The region’s stunting level stands at 38%, above Africa, East Asia, Pacific and Latin America," it said.
The report also underlined the need for reforms in public food distribution systems, and pointed out that even though the National Nutrition Mission was launched last year in India, poor governance of food distribution remained a barrier and needed to be improved.
“Global food value chains and robust economic prospects offer untapped potential for prosperity in the region. In 2018, South Asian countries are expected to reform their agriculture sectors, increase openness to trade, strengthen linkages with global food value chains," the report said.