Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security.
Hidden cost of global food, land use at $12 trillion
What to study?
For Prelims: What is hidden cost? Key findings of the report.
For Mains: Concerns, measures needed.
Context: Food and Land use Coalition (FOLU), a collaboration of food, farming and green research groups, has released a report on ‘hidden’ environmental, health and poverty costs.
- Food and land use systems are defined as the way “land is used, food is produced, stored, packed, processed, traded, distributed, marketed, consumed and disposed of”.
- These are the leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions (up to 30 per cent) driving climate change.
- They are responsible for the degradation of the world’s tropical forests, grasslands, wetlands and other remaining natural habitats.
- They are also the leading cause behind the ongoing ‘sixth extinction’ of biodiversity.
- Malnutrition leads to the largest hidden costs: Today one-third of the world’s population is malnourished; by 2030 it is expected to rise up to 50 per cent.
- The current methods of food production, consumption and land use systems incur ‘hidden’ environmental, health and poverty costs estimated at almost $12 trillion a year.
- These hidden costs can cause irreversible damage to key ecosystems, fundamentally undermine food security in certain regions, and increase public health costs.
- If action is not taken timely the costs will rise to more than $16 trillion a year by 2050.
- It will also put the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement climate targets out of reach.
- This can further unleash food scarcity, disrupt markets and cause political instability, particularly in poor countries, and greately affect women and children.
The report proposes a reform agenda — centred around 10 critical transitions — of real actionable solutions:
- Healthy diets
- Productive and regenerative agriculture
- A healthy and productive ocean
- Protecting and restoring nature
- Diversifying protein supply
- Reducing food loss and waste
- Local loops and linkages
- Harnessing the digital revolution
- Stronger rural livelihoods
- Gender and demography
The need for reducing hidden costs:
- While an estimated $30 billion public investment is required to deliver the transition, if strongly implemented it can result in an estimated $1.285 trillion by 2030, and $1.920 trillion by 2050.
- Reducing the current ‘hidden costs’ of food and land use systems would add $5.7 trillion economic gains to society annually by 2030 and $10.5 trillion annually by 2050.
- A reduction in public health costs of $1.090 trillion a year by 2030 would be the biggest driver of the gain.
Sources: Down to Earth.