Read the full article by Tomio Sichiri in The Hindu
Healthy diets are an integral element of food and nutrition security. Food consumption patterns have changed substantially in India over the past few decades. This has resulted in the disappearance of many nutritious native foods such as millets. While foodgrain production has increased over five times since Independence, it has not sufficiently addressed the issue of malnutrition. For long, the agriculture sector focused on increasing food production, particularly staples, which led to lower production and consumption of indigenous traditional crops/grains, fruits and other vegetables, impacting food and nutrition security in the process.
Overreliance on a few staple crops coupled with low dietary diversity is a leading cause of persistent malnutrition. Additionally, intensive, monoculture agricultural practices can perpetuate the food and nutrition security problem by degrading the quality of land, water and the food derived through them. Those who have the capacity to make active food choices will have to be more conscious of their choice of food and its traceability. Those who cannot choose must be enabled to exercise that choice. Lifestyles in cities pose other dietary problems. Urban food planning needs to incorporate nutritional security and climate resilience.
Agricultural biodiversity ensures a wider food menu to choose from. Small farmers, livestock and seed keepers in India are on the front-line of conserving the unique agrobiodiversity of the country.