Needs to Fix India’s food Systems

Needs to Fix India’s food Systems


Why in the news? 

The current government requests different ministries to develop plans they want to announce within the first 100 days of their third term. The ministries are contacting various experts to help them frame the proper policy framework that is in sync with the vision of Viksit Bharat@2047, and suggestions to improve the Agri-food space stem from discussions with experts at a four-day forum hosted by the Asian Development Bank on food security in response to climate change.

The new government should prioritize enhancing agricultural productivity, expanding processing and retailing capacities, and encouraging the adoption of new technologies.

Why does the Indian food system need to be fixed? 

Currently, India’s GDP ranks fifth among the world’s top economies. Nearly half of the country’s population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Over the past few decades, the manufacturing and services sectors have increasingly contributed to the economy’s growth, while the agriculture sector’s contribution has decreased.

The Indian Economy is an agro-economy. The difficulty with such an economy is that the agriculture sector depends on the production, distribution, and consumption cycle. Another problem with the Agro-economy is productivity. The agriculture sector holds an important place in the economy. Why does the Indian food system need to be fix discussed in the following sentence:

    • Large Population: India is the world’s second-most populous country, and its population is expected to reach about 1.6 billion by 2047. Ensuring an adequate and stable food supply is essential to meeting the nutritional needs of such a vast population. This requires efficient use of land, water, labour, and inputs like fertilizers and machinery, especially sustainable development in the agricultural sector.
    • Nutrition and Health: Access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food is fundamental for the overall health and well-being of the population. Malnutrition, including undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and obesity, remains a significant public health concern in India.
    • Climate Change: Climate change is a big issue in India’s agricultural system. India’s agriculture heavily relies on the monsoon rains, which provide most of the country’s annual precipitation. Climate change has significantly impacted India’s agriculture by altering monsoon patterns, leading to erratic rainfall, which affects crop yields, livestock, and rural livelihoods. Last year’s El Niño effect notably reduced agricultural GDP growth from 4.7% in 2022-23 to 0.7% in 2023-24.
    • Rural Development: Agriculture is closely linked to rural development in India. Investments in agriculture, infrastructure development, irrigation facilities, and market linkages can stimulate economic growth, alleviate poverty, and improve living standards in rural communities.
    • Poverty Alleviation: Food security is closely linked to poverty alleviation efforts. Many vulnerable populations, particularly those living in rural areas and urban slums, spend a significant portion of their income on food. India has one of the highest numbers of stunted and wasted children. 
    • Social and Economic Stability: Food security is essential for maintaining social stability and preventing social unrest. Adequate food availability and accessibility reduce the risk of food riots, protests, and conflicts arising from food shortages. A stable food supply is crucial for economic stability and sustainable development. Agriculture is a significant contributor to India’s GDP. 

Suggestions to Fix India’s Food Systems: 

    1. Public-Private Partnerships: The private sector can develop efficient value chains and produce climate-resilient and nutritious seeds. The government needs to establish a supportive policy framework, similar to the PLI-type schemes for industry, to facilitate the transformation of food systems.
    2. Invest in Agricultural Infrastructure: Enhance irrigation facilities, storage infrastructure, and transportation networks to reduce post-harvest losses and ensure efficient produce distribution.
    3. Subsidy for Agriculture:  Subsidies are crucial in enhancing the farmer’s income. The current subsidy regimes for fertilizers and food must be “re-purposed.” Transitioning from a price-subsidy approach to direct income transfers for beneficiaries can save 25-30% of the Rs 4 trillion subsidy on food and fertilizers.
    4. Promote Sustainable Farming Practices: Encourage the adoption of organic farming, agroforestry, and precision agriculture techniques to improve soil health, conserve water, and minimize chemical usage.
    5. Promote Urban Agriculture: Encourage urban and peri-urban agriculture initiatives such as rooftop gardens, community gardens, and vertical farming to increase local food production, reduce food miles, and enhance food security in urban areas.
    6. Invest in Research and Innovation: Allocate resources for research and development in agriculture to develop high-yielding crop varieties, climate-resilient farming practices, and innovative solutions for sustainable agriculture.
    7. Address Food Waste: Implement measures to reduce food wastage at various stages of the food supply chain, including production, distribution, and consumption. Encourage the use of surplus food for food banks or composting.


Improving India’s food systems requires a multifaceted approach addressing various challenges like food security, agricultural productivity, sustainability, and equitable distribution. India should works towards building a more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable food system that ensures food security for all its citizens.

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