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Here's Why Agro Food Is The Solution For India's Nutritional Crisis
The author believes that there is a simple yet effective solution for this problem - we need to start strengthening our agro community and encourage the consumption of high-quality agro food products
Photo Credit : Reuters
Perhaps one of the most basic and yet essential activities that we all indulge in on a daily basis is the intake of food, and by extension, nutrition. In fact, if one were to sum up this daily phenomenon in numbers, they'd find that, as a collective nation, India's current food consumption is valued at 370 billion dollars! That's not all, this number is further expected to go up to 1 trillion dollars by 2025. And while our average calorie consumption is on the rise, compared to our American and European counterparts we consume only about half the amount of proteins through our food consumption. For a country with a population as large as India's, and one that consumes such large quantities of food on a daily basis, the amount of protein we are consuming is alarmingly low. Also do we as Indians know what we are consuming and how safe is the food we are consuming.
Needless to say, something needs to be done about India's nutritional aspect and safety criterias, especially since, if left unchecked, it can have severe consequences on our health, life expectancy rates and India's overall development. As it happens, I believe there is a simple yet effective solution for this problem - we need to start strengthening our agro community and encourage the consumption of high-quality agro food products. Believe it or not, but the most effective way to increase our low protein intake, as well as combat the constantly rising number of health problems Indians are regularly facing, lies in the consumption of nutritional agro food knowing what is good for your health and consuming the right food with the right nutrients.
Just think about all of the health benefits one will enjoy , should we be following a diet rich with agro food products. Let's look at one such agro food product - soya beans - to illustrate this point. The multiple benefits of eating soya beans include, but aren't limited to, a high protein content, large amounts of fibre, being an excellent source of calcium and iron and containing large quantities of soflavones (antioxidants which are great for our blood). And soya beans happen to be just one of the many different agro products which, if implemented to one's daily diet, can do wonders for their health and overall sustainability. Since more and more Indians are choosing to make their health a bigger priority than they did before, the market for agro products is all set to expand and grow.
Another reason why the market for agro products is all set to grow? India happens to be the world's second largest producer of fresh fruits and vegetables - In fact, as per the National Horticulture Database published by the National Horticulture Board, during 2014-15 India produced 86.602 million metric tons of fruits and 169.478 million metric tons of vegetables. And yet, problems in the logistics sector have made it one of the most expensive markets for farm produce in the whole world. This has not only discouraged the consumption of fresh agro produce (and thereby led to the nutritional crisis we currently find ourselves in the midst of), but has also added to the woes of our farmers. As such, we need to do our best to ensure that we are able to bridge the gap between farmers, their fresh agro produce, and consumers looking for quality agro food.
Now there are many things we can do in this regard. For starters, we can introduce post-harvest technology and enhanced storage facilities to farmers. As each farmer employees different tactics to grow and harvest his produce (and different farmers choose to grow different crops), providing customized solutions will be essential here. Additionally, we can implement Post Harvest technologies at farm gates and provide farmers with the right technological know-how to enable them to derive the best agro produce from their farmlands.
Major corporates have committed to invest as much as ?68,000 crores in India's food processing sector, it's only a matter of time before consumption of quality agro products becomes the new norm. Many small companies with investment size of 1crore to 50 crores are also investing in this segment catering to specific pockets of India. And it's not just the private sector that is helping boost the consumption of quality Agro food - the public sector too has decided to do its fair share, what with APEDA deciding to set up multiple Centers for Perishable Cargoes and integrated post-harvest handling facilities across the country.
Besides its multiple health benefits, there happens to be another integral reason why promoting and encouraging Agro food products is so beneficial for India's development - it goes hand in hand with Prime Minister Modi's 'Make in India' policy. Our demand for and reliance upon processed food, especially packaged foreign foods, has not only been a major detriment to our health, but has also discouraged the consumption of locally produced agro food. Well, if the health benefits weren't enough to make you understand the absolute importance of quality agro food, then the simple fact that consuming agro food products helps realize PM Modi's 'Make in India' policy should do the trick. Add to this the fact that doing so also achieves year-round availability of affordable, safe and nutritious food and also helps increase employment for rural and urban youth, and one can safely say that Agro food products are the way to go.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.