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Equitable food system and Zero Hunger goal


According to a recent report by the United Nations, the goal of achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2 i.e., ‘Zero Hunger’ has been hit in the wake of the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

According to a United Nations’ report on the Food System, today’s food systems are heavily afflicted by power imbalances and inequality, and do not work for most women.


GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Issues related to Hunger and Poverty, Government Policies and Interventions), GS-III: Indian Economy. Agriculture (Food Security, Types of Resources)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the U.N. report on Inequitable Food System
  2. Report on ‘Zero Hunger’ SDG and the Pandemic
  3. Way Forwards

About the U.N. report on Inequitable Food System

  • Food systems are a complex web of activities involving production, processing, handling, preparation, storage, distribution, marketing, access, purchase, consumption, food loss and waste, as well as the outputs of these activities, including social, economic and environmental outcomes.
  • Women farmers are disproportionately more affected by climate change and land degradation as they are less likely than men to receive key information on climate and agricultural information that would allow them to plan for climate concerns.
  • Rural women accounting for nearly half the agricultural workforce in developing countries, face discrimination. They have very little land rights, face difficulties obtaining ownership, do not have access to credit and are engaged in unpaid work.
  • Though indigenous women play a crucial role in eradicating hunger and malnutrition, they face high levels of obesity and are more susceptible to chronic diseases due to limitations in the recognition and exercise of rights that have hampered their access to equitable systems of food.
  • Rural women were among the worst affected among the food insecure population of 821 million (as of 2017). As many as 31 African countries depended on external food aid till 2019.
  • Migration among youths over the course of urban transition have had impacts on the gendered nature of economic roles. Such migration has entailed a growing gap between the location of food production and food consumption.
  • A 2020 UN report had hinted how epidemics can significantly reduce women’s economic and livelihood activities, increasing poverty rates and exacerbating food insecurity.

Report on ‘Zero Hunger’ SDG and the Pandemic

  • Food security does not only rely on food availability, but also on food access. Hence, if food security and poverty can be seen as part of the same battle, reduction of poverty should not only be sought through lower food prices but also through higher income.
  • Environmental health through a more sustainable agriculture also establishes a link between SDG2 (Zero Hunger) and SDG 3 (good health and well-being).
  • Gender inequality makes several women food insecure because female workers hold a substantial share of the agricultural workforce, but face difficulties in accessing land, livestock, education, extension and financial services.

Way Forwards

  • The U.N. has called for more such independent, social systems at the national as well as the regional level to strengthen institutional architecture and make decision-making processes related to food systems more inclusive.
  • The U.N. urged the systems to adopt policies that eliminate barriers in access to fundamental services, ensuring, for example, the right to food, shelter and health.
  • The U.N. stressed that inequitable systems and structures that enable and exacerbate inequalities for food systems workers and consumers be dismantled and governments, businesses, and organizations be held accountable for ensuring equitable livelihoods.
  • Facilitating new investment, research and innovation for sustainable agriculture while reducing food waste and losses at the same time will go a long way towards attaining SDG -2.
  • Changing our consumption patterns to leverage considerable benefits on SDG outcomes by relieving pressure on natural resources and fostering the health benefits.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine

February 2024