Despite a decade of high economic growth,Gujarat has been unable to make a dent in tackling chronic food insecurity in the state,according to a study based on data of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO).
There is chronic under-nourishment in nearly half the population. One-third of the men and women are underweight and more than half the women suffer from anemia, says a study paper presented by Niti Mehta,acting director of Sardar Patel Institute of of Economic and Social Research (SPIESR),at a national seminar on imperatives of sustainable farm sector development here on Friday.
The paper stated that the prevalence of chronic/under-nutrition in children (below five years of age) was widespread among scheduled tribes (61%) and scheduled castes (55%).
Surprisingly,children in even the most wealthiest households in Gujarat suffered from malnutrition. More than one-third of the children (36%) of less than five years in the wealthiest households are stunted,16% are wasted (weight-for-height) and 30% are underweight. Thus households facing no dearth of food availability are also showing poor nutritional outcomes, the study stated.
In spite of high overall and agricultural growth of 2000s decade,childrens nutritional status in Gujarat has not improved in the seven years between 1998-2006 for which NFHS data is available, Mehta said.
Among 17 major states of the country,Gujarat ranks 13th on the State Hunger Indices.
This shows that economic growth may not be necessarily associated with improved food availability and access, Mehta added.
The food production and cropping pattern of the state also seem to be playing a role in existing food insecurity. In rural Gujarat,wheat consumption has consistently risen,the increase being particularly sharp after 2004-05. The traditional coarse cereals bajra,jowar and maize are important sources of micro-nutrients. From a combined share of 44% in rural and 14.2% in urban Gujarat in 1993-94,their consumption share has declined to 35% and 9.3% respectively in 2009-10, the study says.
Even the average per capita calorie intake of urban Gujaratis have fallen from 2027 kilo calories per day (kcal/day) to 1983 in 2010.
In rural Gujarat,the existing calorie intake is 1982 calories,which is lower than the national average of 2020 calories for rural India.