VISAKHAPATNAM: “Over the last two decades most of the SAARC members experienced relatively rapid GDP growth but this is not always translated into significant improvements in food security,” opined Venkatesh B Atreya, advisor on food security to MS Swaminathan Foundation, Chennai. Atreya delivered a guest lecture on ‘The Challenge of Food and Nutrition Security in SAARC Region’, conducted by the SAARC Centre of Andhra University. He spoke on the three dimensions of food security - availability, accessibility and absorption.
Venkatesh said that over the last decade, the per capita availability of foodgrains in India had been declining significantly. He also mentioned that India’s record in terms of nutritional outcomes was poor, adding: “The last countrywide survey showed that nearly half of the children in India aged below 10 are underweight.”
On diseases, Venkatesh said that India was facing some challenges. “Anaemia is rampant among women aged between 33 and 49 years and even among children below 5 years of age. About 30 to 40 per cent of India’s rural households do not consume adequate calories. Micro nutrient deficiency, especially of iron and vitamin A is found in rural areas. India has many, huge challenges.” He also mentioned that the government programmes/schemes like ICDS, PDS, MDMS and NREGS are meant to address food securities issues.
AU College of Arts and Commerce principal R Satya Raju, Centre for SAARC Studies director M Prasad Rao and other AU staff were present.