Friday, January 17, 2014

Global food index: India ranks among the worst on food accessibility

NEW DELHI: India figured among 30 countries at the bottom when 125 countries where ranked according to the global food index, which included levels of undernutrition, food prices, quality of food and unhealthy outcomes due to people's diet. The pile at the bottom comprised mostly African countries along with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Laos from Asia. 

The global food index was compiled by Oxfam, an international aid and charity organisation working to alleviate poverty and hunger. It combined data most recently available from eight global data sources including the World Health Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the International Labour Organisation. 

While India and Pakistan figured 29 and 28 from the bottom with a food index ranking of 97, Bangladesh figured 24 from the bottom with a ranking of 102 and Laos ranked 112. 

The top ten ranks were grabbed by European countries with Netherlands being ranked the best followed by France, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and Austria in that order. In fact the top 20 spots were all from Western Europe barring Australia which figures at the 12th place. The UK was at the 16th place, the US rank was 21 and Brazil ranked 25 on the list along with Canada. Chad Angola and Ethiopia rank the worst in the overall food index ranking. 

India again figured at the bottom along with countries like Burundi, Yemen, Eritrea, Madagascar and Timor Leste for having the highest rates of undernutrition and highest proportion of underweight children. In this list India has no company from Asia. 

When it comes to affordability and quality of food India is not that badly off. It is when it comes to the measure of people having enough to eat that India sinks to the bottom showing how food distribution and accessibility to food are huge problems especially for the country's poor. The US scores high on both affordability as well as quality. But the cheap food available is not always of very good quality as it evident from the high rate of obesity and diabetes in the country. Saudi Arabia has the highest rate of obesity. The US along with Mexico, Kuwait, Jordan, Czech Republic and Fiji are at the bottom of the pile showing very high prevalence of diabetes and obesity. 

Around the world one in eight people go to bed hungry every night despite there being enough food for everyone. About 900million people still don't have enough to eat, and 1 billion people are obese pointed out Oxfam showing how skewed the global food distribution system was. 

Oxfam suggested immediate steps to tackle climate change impact on food production, to stop the diversion of crops from food to biofuel, to put curbs on food industry to address obesity and diabetes, to address unfair trade agreements that affect food availability and more investment in infrastructure for storage and transportation of food.

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