Dr Asangba Tzudir
An estimated 690 million (8.9%) people go to bed hungry regularly according to a report from United Nations food agencies. Global hunger index for 2020 puts hunger at a moderate level and shows a constant rise. Sadly, the world is not on the track to achieve the sustainable development goal for zero hunger and it is said that due to the effects of Covid-19, an additional 83 to 132 million more people will be chronically hungry due to the pandemic which has really undermined food and nutrition security for many. Too many children are suffering from malnutrition which only increases their vulnerability especially in times of crisis situations.
On the undernourishment index, it is not the African countries, but South Asia which has the largest number of undernourished people in the world. It also has the highest child wasting rate in the world at 14.8 percent (2019) with child mortality still unacceptably high.
Whatever the statistics present, the current pandemic clearly presents a stark reality that no region in the world is immune from hunger, that the world is on the brink of a hunger pandemic which threatens to push millions to starvation. Hunger seems to have become more deadly than the corona virus especially for the poor communities, the underdeveloped and developing countries mainly at the tropics.
In context, besides other serious considerations, the current pandemic has created a situation of mass unemployment and has also pushed food producers to the brink because of the various economic imbalances. However, a real threat of Covid-19 pandemic, which is the hunger pandemic, has not been taken seriously. That, entrepreneurship and building a robust health and healthcare systems are seen as the two key elements in the post-covid scenario.
This also brings us to the issues of food security in Nagaland. It is time to give more emphasis on Agriculture and production. For Nagaland being self-sufficient in rice production is not something that is impossible. For four consecutive years from 2011-2014, the Union Government has awarded the Krishi Gramin Award to Nagaland.
The department of Agriculture in 2012 has set a Vision 2025 with a vision of “prosperity through Agriculture” and to “achieve food for all.” However, the various shifts in economic ventures, the increasing urbanisation, erratic changes in climatic conditions, lack of proper research and technology have made this vision more challenging.
Besides other things, there is need to further strengthen the various agricultural aspects of research starting from improved seeds, and capacity building through modern production technology. This needs to be properly disseminated so as to reach the farmers at the grassroots. With erratic changes in climatic conditions certain villages in Nagaland had to re-sow rice in their paddy. This also brings the importance of time tested climate resilient crops.
Within the looming threat of a hunger pandemic, Nagaland, with all the agricultural advantages, and with a vision to achieve “food for all,” the way forward needs to be both inclusive and intensive with a blend of traditional farming methods aided by research, use of machinery and technology. Besides, insurance and better incentives for farming will serve as a huge boost towards encouraging farmers.
(Dr Asangba Tzudir writes a weekly guest editorial for The Morung Express. Comments can be mailed to email@example.com)