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India needs to transform its unorganised food system: US think tank

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India’s food system is largely unorganised and highly fragmented, a report by an American think-tank said, underlining that the country must reform government procurement, tariff and tax policies affecting urban food delivery to feed its growing cities.

The prestigious Chicago Council on Global Affairs in its report said that substantial public investments are needed to expand and increase the quality of storage, handling and transportation infrastructure.

It said that India’s food system is largely unorganised and highly fragmented, inhibiting large-scale procurement, distribution, and retail sales.

Authored by Andrea Durkin, the report ‘Investing to Nourish India’s Cities’ recommended that India should reform government procurement, tariff and tax policies affecting urban food delivery.

It also recommends ways to reduce regulatory complexity and enhance food testing capacity.

To improve the supply system, the paper further identifies areas of improvement in transit, warehousing, cold chains, retail and processing that could improve urban food security in India.

“The scale of food and nutrition needed to sustain that is hard to fathom and India’s food system is already failing to deliver food security for all,” said Alesha Black, director of the Council’s Global Food and Agriculture Programme.

“Now imagine when that population doubles in the next 40 years. India has to transform its food system to feed that urban growth,” he said.

The report argues that the food system in India must transform to feed its growing cities.

Increasing urban employment and rising incomes portend significant growth for India’s $360 billion food market.

Yet substantial public and private investments, as well as key regulatory reforms, are needed to update India’s unorganised, fragmented food system, it said.

“There is no more fundamental measure of the well-being of a population than its food and nutrition security,” Durkin said.

“India must make targeted public investments and create a path for the private sector to improve the state of urban nutrition and meet growing demand for food in India’s cities,” said the report.
PTI

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