India’s voedselcrisis is van eigen makelij

SINGAPORE – Op grond van de huidige schattingen zal de bevolking van India in 2028 een omvang van 1,45 miljard zielen bereiken en even groot zijn als die van China nu, en in 2050 een omvang van 1,7 miljard zielen, evenveel als de gecombineerde bevolkingsomvang van China en de Verenigde Staten vandaag de dag. Gezien het feit dat India nu al de nodige moeite heeft om zijn bevolking te voeden, zou de huidige voedselcrisis in het land de komende decennia nog wel eens ernstig kunnen verslechteren.

Van de 78 landen van de 2013 Global Hunger Index (GHI) staat India op de 63e plaats, wat aanzienlijk slechter is dan het aangrenzende Sri Lanka (43e), Nepal (49e), Pakistan (57e) en Bangladesh (58e). Ondanks de aanzienlijke verbeteringen in India van de afgelopen kwart eeuw – de GHI-rating van het land is gestegen van 32.6 in 1990 naar 21.3 in 2013 – gelooft de FAO (de Voedsel- en Landbouworganisatie van de Verenigde Naties) dat 17% van de Indiërs nog steeds te ondervoed is om een productief leven te kunnen leiden. In feite woont een kwart van de ondervoede mensen in de wereld in India, méér dan in het hele deel van Afrika dat ten zuiden van de Sahara ligt.

Nog verontrustender is dat een derde van de ondervoede kinderen in de wereld in India woont. Volgens UNICEF heeft 47% van de Indiase kinderen een te laag gewicht en is 46% van de kinderen onder de drie jaar te klein voor hun leeftijd. Bijna de helft van alle sterfgevallen onder kinderen kan worden toegeschreven aan ondervoeding – een situatie die de voormalige Indiase premier Manmohan Singh een “nationale schande” heeft genoemd.

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