Malnutrition in India

I came across this astonishing fact:

Today child malnutrition is prevalent in 7 percent of children under the age of 5 in China and 28 percent in sub-Saharan African compared to a prevalence of 43 percent in India.

– source http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/magazine/11FOB-Rieff-t.html

When I dug deeper, I discovered that India produces 12% of the World’s Wheat, and 22% of the World’s Rice. (Source: USDA World Crop Supply Assessment) Considering that we have about 17% of the world’s population the domestic food grain production level seems to be adequate for Indian needs.

Are we starving ourselves to export and feed the world?

NO! Till 2009 Wheat and Non-Basmati rice export was banned. Even in 2010 export figures for popular food grains is not a substantial figure.

50% of the Indian population lives in the villages where cultivation of food crops is the major economic activity. So all that needs to be done is harvest the crop and keep aside a few sacks of grains for the household. However what happens is that government appropriates the entire crop and keeps it to rot in their silos. There are several restrictions on quantity and price for a farmer to sell directly to a grain merchant. Also there are restrictions on inter-state transport of grains by non-governmental agencies. All these have resulted in huge wastages and malnutrition.

I am reminded of the famous quote:

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”

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