New Delhi: India has 224.6 million undernourished people as nearly a fifth of the country's population does not receive the minimum number of calories required by an average individual, says the newly launched Global Food Security Index (GFSI).
Sixty-eight point seven percent of the population in India lives below the global poverty line, the index said.
GFSI, a scoring tool that measures the drivers of food security in 105 countries, says that the undernourished in India consume, on an average, 240 kcal below the minimum requirement, indicating that food deprivation in the country is slightly less severe than in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
"Nineteen percent of India's population does not receive the minimum number of required calories for an average person, thus resulting in 224.6 million undernourished people," GFSI said.
The index, which was launched in the capital earlier this week, said that the food supply in India averages 2,352 kcal per person per day. The Food and Agriculture Organisation's minimum recommended intake is 1,780 kcal per person per day.
It said food consumption as a share of household expenditure averages 49.5 percent in India, versus an average of 52.3 percent in South Asia and just 20 percent in high income countries.
India is ranked 66th in GFSI, scoring moderately across the four categories of affordability, availability, quality and safety. India ranks ahead of Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh in food availability but lack of a diverse diet and low protein quality constrain its score in quality and safety, placing the country third in the region, the index said.
India applies high tariffs on agricultural imports which has an impact on affordability and availability of food, it said.
India has been ranked 76th in terms of food consumption as a share of household expenditure. It has been ranked 83rd in proportion of population under global poverty line, 69th in gross domestic product per capita, 100th in agricultural import tariffs, 31st in presence of food programmes and 30th in access to financing for farmers.
The index said despite vulnerability to food price shocks, India has institutions dedicated to providing food safety net programmes to protect the poor.
It said that government spends just one percent of agricultural GDP on related research, placing India near the bottom of 26 lower middle-income countries.
The GFSI ranks India 76th in average food supply (kcal/person/day), 55th in dependency of chronic food aid and 65th in public expenditure on agricultural research and development.
In agricultural infrastructure, the country was ranked 44th, 27th in volatility of agricultural production and 20th in political stability risk. India's population receives 38 percent of dietary energy consumption from non-starchy foods owing to high consumption of rice, said the index.
India's food quality is constrained by availability of Vitamin A and iron which are below world average, and food supply also contains relatively low quantities of quality protein. "On an average, the greatest source of protein in India is from wheat, rice and pulses. Based on this diet, the average person consumes 37 grams of quality protein..."
"The average person in low-income countries consumes 48.7 grams and in a high income country 101.7 grams," the index said.
The Index has put India 76th in diet diversification, first in government commitment to nutritional standards, 91st in micronutrient availability, 85th in protein quality and 67th in food safety.
The Global Food Security Index (GFSI) has been developed by Economist Intelligence and is sponsored by Du Pont.
The index provided a framework to assess food security across dimensions such as affordability, availability and safety and quality and aims at deepening the dialogue on issues related to food.
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