Indian spends 3.5% of Avg daily income on food, New Yorker 0.6%: UN Report

In News

  • World Food Programme (WFP) recently published the ‘Cost of a Plate of Food 2020’ report, on the occasion of World Food Day (October 16).

About: Cost of a Plate of Food report

  • The report highlights the impact of various factors on people’s access to affordable food.
  • It is published by the World Food Programme (WFP).
  • It takes an estimated per capita average income across each country and calculates the percentage of income that people have to spend for a basic meal (some beans or lentils for example, and a carbohydrate matching local preferences).
  • This is the third edition of the report (formerly called Counting the Beans) with 36 countries featuring in the report this year.

Cost of a Plate of Food 2020’ report

Highlights of the report:

  • The report highlights conflict and climate change as the core reasons for hunger in many countries, as they force people to move away from their homes, land and jobs. This leads to a drastic reduction in incomes and the availability of affordable food.
  • Now COVID-19 has added another challenge faced by most vulnerable groups, through increased unemployment, loss of remittances and weak economies.
  • The pandemic has also disrupted trade and supply chains resulting in local food price increases, which contribute to making food more unaffordable to millions of people in the world. 
  • With COVID-19 leading to huge rises in unemployment, people in urban areas will also become highly vulnerable.
  • For millions of people, missing a day’s wages means missing a day’s worth of food, for themselves and their children. This can also cause rising social tensions and instability.

Status in various countries and regions:

  • South Sudan is at the top of the list, with basic ingredients costing 186 percent of a person’s daily income.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa in particular is the worst affected, with 17 out of the top 20 countries in the report coming from this region.
  • The region’s high dependency on food imports makes it vulnerable to global economic conditions. Moreover, due to its dependence on high informal labour, huge number of workers are vulnerable to sudden losses of income.
  • India stands at 28th position as per the percentage of money, people have to pay on a plate of food compared to their salaries.
  • On an average an Indian spends 3.5% of his/ her daily income (or US$7.37) for a plate of food as compared to 0.6% (US$1.26) by a person living in New York.
  • Such differences bring into focus the huge inequalities between people living in developing countries and others in more prosperous parts of the world.

Way Ahead

  • The report highlights the work that still needs to be done, with multiple pressures continuing to put affordable food beyond the reach of millions. The goal of a zero hunger world will truly be realized, only when these issues are addressed effectively.
  • WFP suggests that, inequalities can be addressed with more investment in the short term to support people from the impact of Covid-19.
  • Further, greater emphasis is needed on building sustainable food systems in the long term as a foundation for access to affordable and nutritious food. 
  • Thus, countries should work towards sustainable local food systems that are climate smart, culture and context specific, inclusive, caring and accountable.

About: World Food Programme (WFP)

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) is the food-assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security.
  • WFP was established in 1961 after the 1960 Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Conference, when the US Food for Peace Programmes, proposed establishing a multilateral food aid programme.
  • The WFP was formally established in 1963 by the FAO and the United Nations General Assembly on a three-year experimental basis. In 1965, the programme was extended to a continuing basis.
  • From its headquarters in Rome, the WFP works to help people who cannot produce or obtain enough food for themselves and their families.
  • Further, food-for-work programmes help promote environmental and economic stability and agricultural production.
  • It aims to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, with the ultimate goal of eliminating the need for food aid itself.

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