India Vision 2050
We spoke to various stakeholders and partners - urban farmers, nutritionists, food experts, international agencies, design thinkers, the government and the civil society. Here’s what we visioned together - a future that’s possible, sustainable, and harmonious - just as Nature intended!
How do we get to this vision of food secure, healthy and sustainable India? We took a Design Thinking approach to answer 3 questions - What is? What if? What works? & What Wows?
India in 2050
The world has changed in the last 3 decades
The catastrophic events of the 20s - series of pandemics, the water crisis, an exponential rise in lifestyle diseases and other environmental disasters, made us rethink our survival as a human race.
On the positive side, advances in technology and overall digital transformation, combined with strong citizen participation, allowed rapid and comprehensive changes to be initiated. All this has led to a complete change in how we work and live. Our relationship with nature and with each other has changed fundamentally.
Key concept that we wish to see in 2050
- More Indians today live or spend time on farms than ever before. Professionals are part-time proud ‘farmers’ networking with an ecosystem of responsible producers.
- Not only are people becoming more connected to where their food is coming from, they are fundamentally more in rhythm with the natural and seasonal cycles.
- Indians are naturally blessed with traditional systems like Ayurveda and Naturopathy, which have made a huge comeback.
- An average person knows his or her constitutional profile and manages their diet accordingly.
- Traditional therapists and consultants are coaching people on mindful eating and sustainable lifestyles.
- The once nuclear, fragmented families of the cities are now part of active, connected and vibrant communities back home with many cases of reverse migration.
- Bio-dynamic and organic farming are ubiquitous.
- We revive extinct indigenous fruits and vegetables and along with it several species of birds, insects and animals have made a come back.
- Forest produce is increasing the nutrition and therapeutic value of food.
- Indiscriminate urbanization has halted.
- Nature has a rightful claim to large parts of any city, town or village.
- In cities people are growing personal supplies of vegetables in balconies and community farms.
- Sharing is profitable in a literal sense.
- Buying local and seasonal is the norm and gets you significant energy credit points.
- Treating yourself to expensive and exotic fruits or vegetables is only an occasional indulgence.
The global population is expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050.
While, India’s population is projected to be around 1.64 billion by 2050, one sixth of the world’s population.
Our current consumption patterns are pushing planetary limits. We absolutely have to protect the Human race and the Plant but the challenges are formidable.
Child (under-five) nutrition status
Sources: UNICEF, Division of Data Research and Policy (2019). UNICEF Global Databases: Overlapping Stunting, Wasting and Overweight, January 2019, New York.
Quarter of children and adolescents in the country are stunted; more than 50% of women of reproductive age group and children are anaemic; overweight and obesity has doubled over the last decade. Further, one in ten school-age children and adolescents are pre-diabetic. The country faces huge economic loss due to food borne diseases (FBD) – going up to 0.5% of GDP which is estimated to increase from 100 million (in 2011) to about 150-177 million (in 2030).
The Indian diet is predominantly cereal based (rice and wheat), protein-deficient, lacking in fruits and vegetables and rising consumption of fats and sugars. Per capita per day consumption of calories is still lower than the global recommendations (2500 kcal/day). Consumption of refines oils and sweeteners is disproportionate. Low ratio of price/100 kcal of cereals as compared to milk and meat is a major reason for Indians eating a cereal centric diet.
An average of 20 percent of food being wasted in the country. Lack of warehousing, processing and cold storage facilities are the key reasons for food wastage. Fruits and vegetables (40%), milk (40%) and meat (20%) are the ones wasted the most in the sector.
Safety & Hygiene
Microbial contamination especially of milk, meat and F&V, improper temperature control and adulteration are key issues.
High use of pesticides and chemicals in farming, mono-cropping patterns (rice and sugarcane) contribute to depleting water tables and burning of rice stubbles as source of air pollution.
Livelihood and Employment
Food sector directly and indirectly employs about 2/3rd of all Indians. Much of this workforce are migrants who moved to urban centres. A mass reverse migration due to COVID-19, effecting nearly 10 million migrant workers, may throw up unique challenges.
The ‘Eat Right Movement ’ transforms India‘s food environment.
Food Future Foundation has an ambitious vision of transforming India’s food environment. It adopts a judicious mix of regulatory, capacity building, collaborative and empowerment tools and combines supportive actions to its primary regulatory mandate. It adopts a ‘food systems approach’ to address the issues in a holistic manner.
Whole-of-Government Approach in dealing with issue of food in a holistic and integrative manner
To achieve this vision, these things need to happen:
Robust food regulatory system that includes setting science-based, globally-benchmarked standards, credible food testing, surveillance, and enforcement activities. Setting standards on use of excess salt, sugar and fat; use of recyclable plastics and tougher implementation of safety and health standards.
Finest hygiene and sanitation standards across the value chain through a graded approach. Capacity building through training and certification for all businesses including unorganized micro food vendors, hygiene ratings for medium and small businesses, and organizing vendors in clean clusters and hubs.
Conscious consumption by changing food environments by taking a settings-based approach and targeting people at home, school, workplace and outside through training and capacity building and generating awareness.
Mass mobilization and behavioural shifts to nudge citizens to eat right and waste less. To initiate a people’s movement to create demand side push for safe food, healthier and suitable diets is needed.
We are imagining a world where-
- We produce enough without destroying the environment.
- We ensure food security for all
- Provide adequate and proper nutrition to everyone
- Adopted sustainable diets and conscious consumption
- We could improve wages thereby improving purchasing power and reducing rural distress
- Eliminated Food Borne Diseases
- Clever technologies like big data, Internet of Things, block-chain, agricultural biotechnology, and artificial intelligence & Machine Learning became mainstream and affordable to enabled better traceability of food, eliminate food wastage and over-production
- ‘Whole of the Government’ to ‘whole of society approach’ in dealing with issue of food in a holistic and integrative manner for inclusive, equitable and sustainable food system to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- Built strong networks and partnerships to engage a larger diversity of stakeholders and benefit from their technical expertise
"Eat right movement is a revolution in terms of partnerships, professionalism and people’s movement."
Food Future Foundation follows a graded approach to working with industry that focuses on promoting a culture of self-regulation among businesses, working with the informal food sector, and developing and harnessing a private sector food ecosystem. Along with this, large-scale capacity building through private players is an effective strategy to improve the quality of food served by these businesses.
With 60+ On-field Agronomist, Kalpavriksha Program has enrolled around 1.2 Lac Acres of farms across 18,441 Farmers. Farms that have completed more than a year with Kalpavriksha have delivered 13% increase in yields.
‘Kalpavriksha’ programme was launched by Marico Industries with a focus on enhancing farm productivity of Coconut Farmers. It resulted in 13% increase in yields. Training & Awareness programmes propagating scientific farm practices were conducted with on field support provisions. This program also promoted water conservation practices in farms.
Mondelez India’s Cocoa Life program covers a wide spectrum of activities starting from supporting Cocoa agriculture research at Universities in South India, producing quality planting materials, offering free technical advice to farmers through a massive farmer-outreach program, farm-gate procurement of Cocoa beans from the farmers eliminating middlemen, promoting drip irrigation and undertaking community programs like women training, school support and tribal farmers support. Program has successfully enrolled over 3000 marginalized tribal farmers into cocoa planting creating livelihood opportunities for them. Over 5500 children in the remote cocoa communities are benefited through schooling infrastructure.
There is food security for all
We have local self-governance with community ownerships - central and state governments help with larger logistics, health, policies, training and certification, and other facilitation like exports. Government labs also help with Data and Analytics, crop distributions, crop health and diversity, acquiring Geographical Indicators (GIs) and adjusting Pricing Models.
Ensure health and wellbeing of people (Safe Food and Healthy Diets), while safeguarding environment and livelihoods (Sustainability)
Private ownerships have become very limited. Workplaces have changed significantly.
All of us typically have 2 jobs - primary and secondary. Unless you work for critical services like Health or Public Utilities - you need to earn part of credits from your secondary role that must contribute to your local communities.
Financial models have been re-imagined and reinvented. Instead of ‘money’ we have credits. All work obligatory or voluntary gives you credits. Complex algorithms help define credits of the work done based on many factors. Some types of work like volunteering in the Specialty restaurants need certifications - you can’t work in the chef’s line without certification of skill and experience. However, you can acquire these by taking weekend classes and by doing voluntary work at smaller kitchens.
Pricing is effected by how far produce travels from its origin. There is no more any incentive to grow only a certain variety of a crop - special algorithms calculate credit pricing so that local varieties are as profitable as any other.
Government suggests a percentage of the produce/crop that we can use for local needs, a certain percentage that can be shipped to nearby or needy states, and another percentage that can be exported or stored or processed for emergency use. There is also a percentage that is left for the birds and other animals.
We are encouraged to travel to enjoy local flavors rather than import them. Imported food cost more as energy miles are added on every item shipped.
With the advent of high bandwidths, modern transportations - people have moved on from cities. In fact the whole concept of a city has changed - it is more about history and historical artifacts rather than business. Biggest impact has been on agriculture - specific areas have been mapped out for production of community managed small farms and other natural forested areas. The idea is that every citizen has connection and responsibility for whatever he consumes.
Food packaging and transport have slowly become more natural, reusable and trackable. Transport modules (of varying sizes) are powered by solar and other renewable energy sources. They maintain natural humidity and temperature of the produce. Number of miles traveled are constantly updated and tracked. Government collates all this data and shares them with all communities. Regulators keep a strict watch on diversity and amount of food produced. Only a limited amount of excess is allowed as emergency supplies.
The world has moved away from a producer-consumer paradigm. Now everyone has a relationship (direct or indirect) with how food is grown, distributed and partaken.