Vice President Naidu flags concern over hunger

Vice Prez Venkaiah Naidu flags concern over hunger; urges policymakers to ensure nutritional security

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu. (PTI Photo)

Expressing concern over India's poor ranking in the global hunger index, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said policymakers and farm scientists must introspect and address this issue by ensuring food and nutritional security of the country.

He also ruled that politicians, political parties and Parliament were not paying attention to the problem of the galloping population of India that poses many challenges, including for food security.

"While the position on the food front is comfortable with total foodgrains production at 283.37 million tonnes... India ranks 102nd in the global hunger index. This is a matter of concern," Naidu said while addressing the 58th convocation of Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI).

The policymakers, politicians, parliamentarians, agricultural universities and farm scientists must be "seriously concerned why we are still at 102nd rank in the global hunger index", he said.

"Is there something lacking in policy, in action, in implementation, in prioritisation, we must all introspect seriously and address this concern," Naidu questioned.

The Vice President highlighted that the country's total foodgrain production has increased to 283.37 million tonnes from nearly 51 million tonnes in 1950-51. Rice and wheat production stood at more than 100 million tonnes in the 2018-19 crop year.

"We have achieved self-sufficiency in food but mere food security will not suffice. We need to have protein security. There is a vitamin deficiency in each and every person. We must address the problem of protein," Naidu said, adding that there was a need to increase the production of Nutri-cereals, pulses and horticulture crops.

Naidu asked farm scientists to focus on raising farm productivity and production level and cited the example of Vietnam, where the productivity of rice is 10 times more than India.

"In a country like India with a galloping population, unfortunately, nobody is paying attention to the issue of population. Political parties are feeling shy, politicians are feeling shy, Parliament also does not adequately discuss this issue," Naidu said.

He said the population is growing "leaps and bounds" in India and creating problems like traffic.

"One is of course addressing the problem of population and secondly the need is to increase food production not only for our food security but also for the global food security. If population increases like this, and you are not adequately matching it by increasing the production, there will be problem," Naidu said.

The Vice President stressed that countries like India cannot depend on imported food security. "You need to develop home-grown food security. That should be the priority for all of us".

With all the scientific, technological, and industrial advancement, Naidu said even today nearly 60 per cent of Indian population is dependent on agriculture and allied activities.

The Vice President asked students of IARI to focus on their lifestyle and food habits. He exhorted them to eat healthy food and practice Yoga. "Yoga is for body not for Modi," he told students.

The Vice President talked about the judicious use of fertilisers and pesticides, and also emphasised on food processing, storage and value addition to reduce post-harvest losses and boost farmers' income.

Naidu said the government has launched several schemes including Rs 87,000 crore PM-KISAN, for the welfare of farmers and now focus should be on proper implementation.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary and ICAR Director General T Mohapatra were present on this occasion.

IARI Director Ashok Kumar Singh and Dean Rashmi Aggarwal presented the report on the significant achievements of the institute during 2019. 

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