To provide food security, South Asian nations must engage in liberal trade (The Wire) 

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The South Asia region has about a quarter of the world’s population and is projected to grow to about 40 percent by 2050. It bears a high burden of poverty and undernutrition, writes the Wire in a report about trade, nutrition, and food security. About 42 percent of the world’s poor, earning less than US$1.25 per day, live in the region. Nearly 21 percent of the population is undernourished, and more than 41 percent of children are underweight. About 48.4 percent of women of reproductive age are anemic. The stunting (too short for their age) rate of 30.7 percent among children is higher than the global average of 22 percent. Wasting (less weight for height among children up to 5 years) is 14.1 percent while the global average is only 6.7 percent. The region has about a quarter of the world’s population, which is projected to grow to about 40 percent by 2050. South Asia has missed the sustainable development goals (SDGs), adopted by UN General Assembly in 2015. One of the objectives of SDGs was to end hunger, achieve food security, and improve nutrition while promoting sustainable agriculture. It was also supposed to help the poor in each country and promote good health and well-being which are essential for sustainable development.

South Asia bears a high burden of poverty and undernutrition.

Trade is a challenge for South Asia. Much of the trade within the region is through third countries. A higher volume of trade can be mutually beneficial to all the countries in South Asia. To achieve this, a much better infrastructure of storage and transportation across the region is required for increasing the trade in such products.

In addition to a liberal trade regime, it is important for South Asian countries to formulate policies that would encourage the consumption of nutritious diets. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) research in the Food Policy journal article, ‘Affordability of nutritious diets in rural India’ highlighted the need to improve the advertising and publicity for nutritious food. Highly processed food receives a lot of public funds from private companies.

Republished in Nagaland (India).

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