We see malnutrition
as a burden on our conscience, and on our exchequer. We also know it is a daunting task to get rid of child malnutrition. But do we know about the economic benefits on the other side? A new FAO report tells us that India can increase its national income by a massive US$ 28 billion by eliminating child malnutrition. Now that is serious economic gain so read on!
Agreed that India tops the world in cattle population and in milk production but it comes out poorly in the consumption of animal proteins such as milk, eggs or meat (http://agropedia.iitk.ac.in/?q=content/livestock-sector-india
). It is also understandable that the consumption of animal protein is particularly low among the poorer sections, who also happen to be the victims of malnutrition. And this despite the fact that about two third of India’s livestock market is owned by 67% of small, marginal and the landless farmers. India’s child malnutrition rates are among the highest in the world, and according to UNICEF, one out of every three malnourished children in the world is in India.
The latest FAO report World Livestock 2011: Livestock in Food Security
presents many insights into India’s nutritional and food security
. It tells us that if seen in right perspective, the benefit of eliminating child malnutrition (US$ 28 billion) is more than the country’s combined expenditures on nutrition, health, and education.
The FAO report examines the way in which livestock contributes to the food security of three different human populations –livestock-dependent societies, small-scale mixed farmers and urban dweller. It presents a global overview, examines the role that livestock play in human nutrition, the world food supply and access to food particularly for poor families.
The World Livestock 2011 report describes the importance of livestock products in human nutrition. Livestock contribute to the world food supply, directly through production of meat, milk and eggs, and indirectly through supplying traction and manure to cropping. They play a crucial role in improving household and individual access to food, particularly for poor families, and providing food and income. They act as economic and social buffer against shocks.
Despite their valuable contribution to economy, in most countries, livestock are under-represented or undermined in poverty alleviation programmes.
The report notes that meat, milk and eggs provide proteins with a wide range of amino acids that match human needs as well as bio-available micro-nutrients such as iron, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and calcium in which many malnourished people are deficient. This fact is quite important as 925 million people were undernourished in 2010 worldwide while around 2 billion were estimated to be malnourished. It is also true that high level of meat and saturated fat consumption can lead to high rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers. The cost of obesity has been estimated at 1.1 percent of GDP for India (2006).
The World Livestock 2011 says a study that compared Uganda, India and Peru (Maltsologu, 2007) found that poor households consumed less in both volume and total value of livestock products than rich ones, with the poorest households allocating less than 10 percent of their food budget (purchases and home consumption) to livestock products. Access to livestock ‘food’ in terms of purchasing power is the biggest challenge.
The report makes some significant observations regarding India. Poultry industry has grown fast in 3 of the largest emerging economies, namely–China, Brazil and India.
China produces 70 million tonnes of egg annually compared to 3 million tonnes by India and 2 million by Brazil.
China produces 15 million tonnes of meat compared to 9 million tonnes by Brazil and 0.6 million by India.
In India, poultry is the fastest growing livestock subsector. Poultry products accounted for approximately 50 percent of per person livestock protein consumption in 2003, compared to about 22 percent in 1985.
According to the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), milk availability per person has grown from 178 g per day in 1991–92 to 258 g per day in 2008–09. However, India is also one of the biggest milk powder importers.
In India buffalo owners sell their animals to cover expenses during droughts. In India, women are members of many of the cooperatives built around large specialized milk herds that meet urban milk demand.Key findings of World Livestock 2011:
• Protein-energy malnutrition is a causative factor in 49 percent of the approximately 10.4 million annual deaths of children under five years of age.
• Iron deficiency is estimated to affect 1.6 billion people worldwide (deBenoist et al., 2008) and to impair the mental development of 40–60 percent of children in developing countries.
• A conservative estimate in 1990 put the global economic loss from malnutrition at US$8.7 billion.
• During the time period 2003-05, average protein consumption in developing countries was 70 gm per day while the same in developed countries was 102 gm per day. During the period 2005-07 average energy consumption in developing countries was 2630 kilocalories per day while the same in developed countries was 3420 kilocalories per day. It is during 2005-07, the report finds, the percent of population consuming insufficient calories is less than 5 percent in the developed countries while the same for developing countries is 16 percent.
• In India, urban consumers eat 2.8 and 4.5 times more eggs and poultry meat respectively than rural consumers while in China, urban people have three times the income of those in rural areas and consume four times as much milk and twice as many eggs. In India, approximately 50 percent of milk is consumed by the people who produce it. Of the milk sold, 80 percent or more passes through informal channels – in 2002, an estimated 80 percent of Indian towns received milk only through informal markets. A rural household in India or Tanzania with one or two dairy animals will use the majority of their milk for home consumption.
• It is estimated that 77 million tonnes of plant protein are consumed annually to produce 58 million tonnes of livestock protein.
• South Asia has seen a small rise in consumption of meat and eggs and a larger rise in milk consumption, with cultural factors playing a part (many Hindus are vegetarian), as well as a rise in smallscale dairying, making milk easily accessible to farm families.References
World Livestock 2011:Livestock in Food Security, FAO,
Chapter 5.2: AnimalHusbandry and Dairying, Tenth Five Year Plan, Volume 2,
Report of the WorkingGroup on Animal Husbandry and Dairying for the Eleventh Five Year Plan(2007-2012), GoI, Planning Commission,
Eleventh Five YearPlan 2007-2012, Vol 3,