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Monthly Archives: November 2018

105 – Biotech and Ugandan Food Security – Ireti Adesida

105 – Biotech and Ugandan Food Security – Ireti Adesida

105 – Biotech and Ugandan Food Security

Uganda is at an interesting precipice.  They have invested in biotech solutions to solve problems in their central food staples, namely the matooke.  The matooke is a starchy banana, and while a cornerstone of the diet, it is threatened by disease.  Most people are farmers, and tend to ‘gardens’ of 2-3 acres, these are subsistence farmers that use the gardens to feed their families.  Xanthamonas bacterial wilt can destroy entire stands of trees.  But scientists in Uganda have used breeding and genetic engineering to generate genetic lines that stop major diseases.  The sad part is that the improved plants are not allowed to be distributed due to the lack of a national biosafety law.  The second part of the podcast is an interview with Dr. Clet Masiga. He is a trained crop scientist, but also a farmer, and I spoke to him on his farm about the needs of Ugandan farmers, changes in policy, and broken down cars.

Most of all, you need to understand that providing the best technology to people in need is simply justice. Justice.

Like the podcast?  Please subscribe and write a review!

The music is from the Musical Well on YouTube, and features traditional Ugandan music.

4 Comments on 105 – Biotech and Ugandan Food Security

That is the way to go rather than pretending that we get much in agric yet they be destroyed in a while.

What an informative podcast! I plan to spread it far and wide among my anti-GMO friends. Thank you, and special thanks to your African colleagues.

I consider that over-simplifying the biodiversity agreements and Cartagena protocol as ‘the evil’ or wrong is as dangerous as opposing biotechnology solutions as GM crops. Colombia is one of the countries that abides to CDB protocols and yet grow BT-cotton and BT-corn among others.
In the same way that technology, international collaboration, and education have made possible that Ugandan research institutions develop this crops, the regulation, legislation and implementation should keep up.

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HeroWork Impact on Food Security Infrastructure in 2018 – Ireti Adesida

HeroWork Impact on Food Security Infrastructure in 2018 – Ireti Adesida

Article written by Christy Sebelius, HeroWork Volunteer

As a HeroWork volunteer I wanted to investigate the impact of their latest project, the $450,000 Food Rescue Kitchen. To do so I interviewed leaders from a couple of very different non-profits that will benefit from our project: the University of Victoria’s Student Society (UVSS) and Silver Threads.

Students in Need

I have worked at the UVic campus since 2004 and had no idea that the University of Victoria’s Student Society (UVSS) runs both a food bank and free store. This Food Bank has been in operation since 2003. Since then the demand for its services has grown dramatically. Between 2010 and 2015 the program’s usage has increased from 1,281 to 10,877 students. That’s an increase of 850% in just 5 years! 

This unsettled me. I don’t think most understand the extent of food insecurity in our community. It continues to grow.

Students from all walks of life use the food bank, with 20-25% of those being families who live on campus and are doing their graduate work.  The food bank’s food comes from various sources: their dumpster diving program, UVic’s Mystic Market, the Good Food Box Project, UVic fees (dairy and basics), and the Food Security Distribution Centre, which is, as Alexandra Ages, Coordinator at the UVSS food bank, told me, “is by far the biggest supplier.”

Since the Food Security Distribution Centre’s creation in early 2017, it’s been an integral part of providing good, healthy food for students.  Everything from spices to pasta is available, with a twice weekly delivery of fresh fruit and vegetables, goodies for families, and hygiene items.   

Alexandra said that the addition of pre-packaged soups and stews through the Food Rescue Kitchen and the Mustard Seed will be an amazing addition to what’s now available. “Students are always looking for things that are easily accessible and do not require much preparation.” She also emphasized just how grateful the students are when they pick up food for themselves and their families. 

Hungry Seniors

Silver Threads supports seniors through programs and outreach services in community centres across Victoria.  Their services were not news to me, but what was news to me is that they also provide extensive food services. 

According to Tracy Ryan, Executive Director at Silver Threads, 85% of seniors in Victoria live independently, and the ability for many to access good nutritious food is an issue on several levels. Not only are there mobility and financial challenges, but the social stigma associated with food banks is greatest amongst this demographic. As a result, many are living on a “tea and toast” diet. 

Silver Threads provides both take-away meals and daily lunch service (at a cost), as well as fresh produce and staples provided and delivered by the Mustard Seed through the Food Security Distribution Centre. It also delivers groceries weekly to other sites Silver Threads supports.  One specific example Tracy cited is a CRD Housing unit, which accommodates 38 seniors. In addition to fresh produce that is already delivered, Silver Threads will now offer pre-packaged soups and stocks, which will help with meal preparation.

Cross-Collaboration is Key

The UVic Student Society and Silver Threads are just two of the over 50 community groups that are affected by the Distribution Centre and will be further lifted up by the Food Rescue Kitchen. To grasp the full impact, multiply these two stories 25 times, reaching nearly every demographic: schools, aboriginal communities, homeless shelters, youth centres, and more.

To tackle such a pervasive challenge requires many leaders and groups to work collaboratively. Tracy, the ED of Silver Threads, asked a key question: “How do we best use the resources that we already have to mitigate the problem.”

In the past organizations often worked separately, each reaching out to different venders and groups for help with food delivery. But with the Food Security Distribution Centre and the new Food Rescue Kitchen, many of these efforts are consolidated and streamlined, allowing each organization to focus on what they do best. Through the process of writing this article, I have learned that both passion and collaboration are key. The Food Rescue Kitchen built by HeroWork is another piece to a big and complex puzzle that strengthens both the Mustard Seed and the Food Share Network organizations, enabling them to serve people who are food-insecure across our region.

But on a personal level, the simple act of witnessing the gratitude and joy on the faces of people who use these services —from the young to the elderly and from all walks of life—is reward enough to get involved in this amazing, life-giving community. 

As Tracy Ryan told me, “Food is the glue that keeps people together.” And as Paul Latour, HeroWork founder and ED, often says, “Charity spaces and infrastructure really do matter.”

Food Security—Growing Food Connections – Ireti Adesida

Food Security—Growing Food Connections – Ireti Adesida

Making Sure All People Have Access to Affordable Food

In This Episode:

02:16 Mike gives some background on the topic for today’s episode.
02:38 Julia Freedgood is introduced.
02:47 Julia tells about the American Farmland Trust.
03:08 Julia shares why farmland and food equity are important.
04:19 Julia explains what food equity is.
05:40 Julia talks about whether food insecurity is a real problem.
06:50 Julia reflects on what needs to be done to attack the problem of food insecurity.
09:08 Julia gives examples of communities that are making progress in the issue of food insecurity.
11:28 Julia provides information about resources on the Growing Food Connections website.
13:44 Julia shares how to access the Community Guide to Planning for Agriculture and Food Systems.
15:00 Julia identifies some of the issues that are creating an obstacle to food security and food equity.
19:45 Julia communicates what the average person can do to be supportive of more food security for other people.
23:23 Mike mentions the book “The New Grand Strategy.”


Julia Freedgood is the Assistant Vice President of Programs for the American Farmland Trust and oversees federal, state and local program and policy efforts to support farmland protection and agricultural viability.


American Farmland Trust is dedicated to preserving the nation’s farm and ranch land – and critical natural resources like soil and water. They also make sure to never forget that it is people – our family farmers and ranchers – who feed us and sustain America.

Take Away Quotes:

“The American Farmland Trust is a national nonprofit organization. We were founded in 1980 to protect farmland for farming, so our mission is to save the land that sustains us by protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices, and keeping farmers on the land.”

“For us, in the context of the project that I was talking about, which is a project American Farmland Trust is part of called Growing Food Connections, and the goal of that project is to strengthen community food systems by supporting small and midsize farmers who are growing food within their communities and regions, and also by improving food access, food security, or food equity. And so for the food-equity piece, we’re really looking at making sure that all people in a community have access to affordable food that’s culturally appropriate, the kind of food they’re familiar with and like to eat, and that it’s readily available.”

“Fifty million people in the country are affected by food insecurity, and so that means lack of access to food on a regular basis. It doesn’t mean that they’re starving, necessarily, but it does mean that they don’t have food access every day, three meals a day, healthy food. It’s gotten a little bit better in the last few years, but it’s still worse than it was before the Great Recession, and it’s still a problem that we need to work on. And you find it especially in low-wealth communities and communities of color and rural communities.”

“Through the project [Growing Food Connections], we studied what we call Communities of Innovation, and so these would be places across the country that have really addressed food-system issues through planning and policy and building partnerships and making investments.”


NAC’s Draft Food Security Bill: A Hit or Miss? | PRS

NAC’s Draft Food Security Bill: A Hit or Miss? | PRS

Freight traffic: Railways majorly transports bulk freight, and the freight basket has mostly been limited to include raw materials for certain industries such as power plants, and iron and steel plants. It generates most of its freight revenue from the transportation of coal (43%), followed by cement (8%), food-grains (7%), and iron and steel (7%). In 2018-19, Railways expects to earn Rs 1,21,950 crore from its freight traffic.

Passenger traffic:  Passenger traffic is broadly divided into two categories: suburban and non-suburban traffic.  Suburban trains are passenger trains that cover short distances of up to 150 km, and help move passengers within cities and suburbs.  Majority of the passenger revenue (94% in 2017-18) comes from the non-suburban traffic (or the long-distance trains).

Within non-suburban traffic, second class (includes sleeper class) contributes to 67% of the non-suburban revenue.  AC class (includes AC 3-tier, AC Chair Car and AC sleeper) contributes to 32% of the non-suburban revenue.  The remaining 1% comes from AC First Class (includes Executive class and First Class).

Railways’ ability to generate its own revenue has been slowing

The growth rate of Railways’ earnings from its core business of running freight and passenger trains has been declining.  This is due to a decline in the growth of both freight and passenger traffic.  Some of the reasons for such decline include:

Freight traffic growth has been declining, and is limited to a few items

Growth of freight traffic has been declining over the last few years.  It has declined from around 8% in the mid-2000s to a 4% negative growth in mid-2010s, before an estimated recovery to about 5% now.

The National Transport Development Policy Committee (2014) had noted various issues with freight transportation on railways.  For example, Indian Railways does not have an institutional arrangement to attract and aggregate traffic of smaller parcel size.  Further, freight services are run with a focus on efficiency instead of customer satisfaction.  Consequently, it has not been able to capture high potential markets such as FMCGs, hazardous materials, or automobiles and containerised cargo.  Most of such freight is transported by roads.

The freight basket is also limited to a few commodities, most of which are bulk in nature.  For example, coal contributes to about 43% of freight revenue and 25% of the total internal revenue.  Therefore, any shift in transport patterns of any of these bulk commodities could affect Railways’ finances significantly.

For example, if new coal based power plants are set up at pit heads (source of coal), then the need for transporting coal through Railways would decrease.  If India’s coal usage decreases due to a shift to more non-renewable sources of energy, it will reduce the amount of coal being transported.  Such situations could have a significant adverse impact on Railways’ revenue.

Freight traffic cross-subsidises passenger traffic

In 2014-15, while Railways’ freight business made a profit of about Rs 44,500 crore, its passenger business incurred a net loss of about Rs 33,000 crore.17  The total passenger revenue during this period was Rs 49,000 crore.  This implies that losses in the passenger business are about 67% of its revenue.  Therefore, in 2014-15, for every one rupee earned in its passenger business, Indian Railways ended up spending Rs 1.67.

These losses occur across both suburban and non-suburban operations, and are primarily caused due to: (i) passenger fares being lower than the costs, and (ii) concessions to various categories of passengers.  According to the NITI Aayog (2016), about 77% to 80% of these losses are contributed by non-suburban operations (long-distance trains).  Concessions to various categories of passengers contribute to about 4% of these losses, and the remaining (73-76%) is due to fares being lower than the system costs.

The NITI Aayog (2016) had noted that Railways ends up using profits from its freight business to provide for such losses in the passenger segment, and also to manage its overall financial situation.  Such cross-subsidisation has resulted in high freight tariffs.  The NTDPC (2014) had noted that, in several countries, passenger fares are either higher or almost equal as freight rates.  However, in India, the ratio of passenger fare to freight rate is about 0.3.

Impact of increasing freight rates

The recent freight rationalisation further increases the freight rates for certain key commodities by 8.75%, with an intention to improve passenger amenities.  Higher freight tariffs could be counter-productive towards growth of traffic in the segment.  The NTDPC report had noted that due to such high tariffs, freight traffic has been moving to other modes of transport.  Further, the higher cost of freight segment is eventually passed on to the common public in the form of increased costs of electricity, steel, etc.  Various experts have recommended that Railways should consider ways to rationalise freight and passenger tariff distortions in a way to reduce such cross-subsidisation.

For a detailed analysis of Railways revenue and infrastructure, refer to our report on ‘State of Indian Railways’.


APDA urges FG to upscale food security issues – Ireti Adesida

The All Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) has called on the Federal Government to upscale the issue of food security to make it more meaningful to Nigerians. Alhaji Shitu Mohammed, presidential candidate of APDA, made this known on Sunday while speaking to newsmen in Minna.

He said that this would require improvement in the nutrient value of the food for Nigerians instead of only making it available.

Shitu said that the present administration has put in place strong measures to make Nigerians feed themselves with what they grow but more is needed to sustain it.

‘’It is a fact that the federal government has to a large extent put to practice the campaign to make Nigerians consume what they grow. And a lot of farmers and Nigerians have also benefited and were empowered by this programme.

‘’However, our party feels that Nigerians deserve more than just food. Apart from the raw food other ingredients must be made available to complement it. This is an all encompassing issue.

‘’The government need to give priority to other aspects like in the areas of tomatoes, onions, fish, pepper among others. These things may sound trivial to elite, but these are things that affect the common Nigerian.

‘’As a national democratic party, APDA urge all parties to ensure that the small and big issues affecting every Nigerian are looked at holistically towards giving citizens a new lease of life,’’ he said.

Mohammed said that making this food issue a priority would further open new horizon of economic diversification as well as a new export opportunity for the ordinary Nigerians.

He added that a new thread of thought was necessary to get Nigerian out of the wood of economic challenges in spite of its vast resources.

“Nigeria has been identified as the giant of Africa. To maintain this we need to open new ideas for the continent. Agriculture is a sure bet to do this with our vast land mass.

‘’It will be an advantage for the Federal Government to take a more serious decision on the issue of importation of food items that we produce locally.

‘’It will be wise to place complete ban on the importation of items such as rice, tomato of all types, chicken, maize, groundnut, wheat. We can sustain this for three years at first instance.

‘’When we do this other African countries will copy our style and achieve the revolution of food sufficiency for the whole of the African peoples,’’ Mohammed said.

He added that micro ideas rather than big ones would take the country out of its doldrums of copying foreign policies to policies that are Nigerian and for Nigerians.

WFP to boost food security – Ireti Adesida – Ireti Adesida

WFP to boost food security – Ireti Adesida – Ireti Adesida

Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The World Food Programme (WFP) in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has started rolling out a $22 million Lean Season Assistance programme for the 2018 /19 season that is aimed at supporting over 430 000 food insecure Zimbabweans.

In a statement recently, WFP country director Mr Eddie Rowe said the programme started in October.

“This contribution is supporting the most vulnerable people in food insecure areas in Zimbabwe over six months to get through what is for many, the most difficult time of the year,” he said.

Mr Rowe said the USAID was providing support to the LSA programme through its Office of Food for Peace.

He said they (USAID) had helped them with food assistance for cash-based transfers and purchase of local and regional commodities such as sorghum, as well as an additional contribution of in-kind commodities sourced from the US for the beneficiaries.

“WFP’s ability to respond to escalating needs in the country hinges on timely and sustained financial contributions from donor nations,” said Mr Rowe.

“The US government has provided more than US$77 million in 2017 alone to emergency food support, nutritional assistance, and other programmes.

“In addition, WFP is currently scaling up to provide life-saving food assistance to more than 1,1 million people per month in Zimbabwe  an effort that will require at least US$73,5 million in additional funding through April 2019.”

According to the findings of the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) more than 2,4 million people in the rural areas will face acute food insecurity at the peak of the lean season (January  March 2019).

Speaking during the just ended 20th Global Child Nutrition Forum held in Tunisia, Mr Rowe said they were working in partnership with the Government to support the re-establishment of a national school feeding programme that would link to local agricultural production.

He said the programme was being implemented under the country’s strategic plan for 2017-2021.

“Under its Country Strategic Plan 2017-2021, WFP Zimbabwe is working in partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe to support the re-establishment of a national school feeding programme that would link to local agricultural production,” said Mr Rowe.

“We have already embarked on a water source development programme, drilling boreholes at 22 primary schools, ensuring access to clean and safe water-pumped using renewable solar energy  which also supports on-site nutritional gardens.”

Mr Rowe said school feeding in Zimbabwe is an essential piece of the social safety net.

UN report says fragile climate puts food security at risk

UN report says fragile climate puts food security at risk

FILE – In this Oct. 1, 2018, file, photo, a doctor measures the arm of a malnourished girl at the Aslam Health Center, Hajjah, Yemen. A UN report says feeding a hungry planet is growing increasingly difficult as climate change and depletion of land and other resources undermines food systems. A U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization report released Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, said population growth requires supplies of more nutritious food at affordable prices. But raising farm output is hard given the fragility of the environment given that use of resources has outstripped Earth’s carrying capacity in terms of land, water, and climate change. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)

BANGKOK (AP) — Feeding a hungry planet is growing increasingly difficult as climate change and depletion of land and other resources undermine food systems, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization said Wednesday as it renewed appeals for better policies and technologies to reach “zero hunger.”

Population growth requires supplies of more nutritious food at affordable prices, but increasing farm output is hard given the “fragility of the natural resource base” since humans have outstripped Earth’s carrying capacity in terms of land, water and climate change, the report said.

About 820 million people are malnourished. The FAO and International Food Policy Research Institute released the report at the outset of a global conference aimed at speeding up efforts to achieve zero hunger around the world.

Food security remains tenuous for many millions of people who lack access to affordable, adequately nourishing diets for a variety of reasons, the most common being poverty.

But it’s also endangered by civil strife and other conflicts. In Yemen, where thousands of civilians have died in airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition, the aid group Save the Children says 85,000 children under 5 may have died of hunger or disease in the civil war.

In Afghanistan, severe drought and conflict have displaced more than 250,000 people, according to UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency.

FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva noted that the number of hungry and malnourished people in the world has risen to levels last seen a decade ago.

“After decades of gains in fighting hunger, this is a serious setback and FAO and the U.N. sister agencies, together with member governments and other partners, are all very concerned,” Graziano da Silva said in a videotaped address to the conference.

Hunger is still most severe in Africa, but the largest number of undernourished people live in the Asia-Pacific region, the report said. It said good public policies and technology are the keys to improving the situation.

The FAO estimates that global demand for food will jump by half from 2013 to 2050. Farmers can expand land use to help make up some of the difference, but that option is constrained in places like Asia and the Pacific and urbanization is eating up still more land that once may have been used for agriculture.

Increasing farm output beyond sustainable levels can cause permanent damage to ecosystems, the report said, noting that it often causes soil erosion, pollution with plastic mulching, pesticides and fertilizers, and a loss of biodiversity.

China destroys 12 million tons of tainted grain each year, at a loss of nearly $2.6 billion, according to the report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Food Security Scheme in Odisha – Ireti Adesida

Food Security Scheme in Odisha – Ireti Adesida

Food Security Scheme in Odisha

Orissa government will soon launch a new food security scheme under which poor people will be able to get nutritional food grains from the state government. Chief Minister has stated that poor people will now get proper nutrients to enhance their health. The scheme will be effective across the state from next financial year.

Launch Details

Food Security Sop in Orissa will be officially launched on the state annual budget in the next financial year 2018-19. The announcement was made on Dec 18th 2017 by the Chief Minister Shree Naveen Patnaik in Orissa. As of now officials are checking on the budget of the scheme. The official budget allocation and the cost of scheme will be declared on next annual budget of the state.

Eligibility criteria

The poor people, mostly who are living below the poverty line will be covered under this scheme. By providing proper nutritional food to these people, government might be able to reduce poverty from the state.

Budget of the scheme

As of now a rough budget has been decided. The state is still checking how much financial burden state will have to carry for this scheme. As of now they are considering the budget between Rs. 1200 Cr up to Rs. 1500 Cr. The amount can be changed later.

Implementation Process

Under the scheme the beneficiaries will get edible oil in small pouches. According to the authority the packaging will be done by following central food packaging standard rules to protect them from damaging.

As the measurement of poverty is being calculated through the nutrition anyone contains in his/her body, nutritional food can be helpful for them to increase the nutrients in body. With launching of this scheme, the state will be able to reduce poverty. As of now more than 86, 32,884 families have been benefitted from cheap rice and other food security schemes since the year 2009. More families will be benefitted from this scheme that will be launched next year.

Breastfeeding: a key to nutrition, food security, and poverty reduction

Breastfeeding: a key to nutrition, food security, and poverty reduction

World Breastfeeding Week this year focuses on breastfeeding as a key to sustainable development; an important tool towards the achievement of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

One of the ways that breastfeeding contributes to the SDGs is through the fact that it addresses a range of issues relating to poverty; and thus significantly contributes towards a more equitable world and fairer society.

My word, breastmilk is simply put … amazing. According to #10 of The Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding and many other bodies worldwide, “breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants.”

In terms of biology, cost, environmental sustainability, quality nutrition composition and needs, production cost and efficiency, and so much more, breastfeeding really does save the day for so many around the world; in a way nothing else can. It is designed for both the best and the roughest … toughest conditions a mother and child could find themselves in, in majority of instances worldwide.

I mean … look at poverty for example – the reality of most people in the world – in the face of or because of natural or man-made disasters … breastfeeding is the normal, safest, and best way to feed infants. This is because it is pretty much self-sustaining for most mums, especially with the right support. It doesn’t rely on the ability to read instructions, and it doesn’t need to be purchased in most cases. For the majority, it also doesn’t need any man-made equipment that must be cleaned in certain ways.

Being the biological norm, and indeed produced from the blood, breastmilk is not formed from the mother’s diet, though there are few instances when some items need to be restricted or eliminated. This is not to say that mum’s diet doesn’t matter; it of course matters for the mother and her family, breastfeeding or not.

Breastmilk is specially made, at the right temperature, and with the right amount of nutrients that babies need at different points during the day. Its ability to satisfy the nutritional needs (and more) of children is time-tested and proven through the ages. In the absence of certain infectious diseases like HIV, where there is a small risk of transmission from mother to child, the risk of contamination is minimal to none. Even then, there

Its production is pretty much free and it has zero environmental cost, except if breastfeeding aids like breast pumps, which are at their core not essential of most breastfeeding journeys, are used.

So, the more optimal breastfeeding is – initiated within the first hour of birth, exclusively done for the first 6 months, and done in addition to solid food for 2 years and beyond – the more optimum its outcomes are.

All these of course is great for poor people, who probably can’t afford a balanced diet, don’t have access to regular clean water and electricity, and might not live in hygienic surroundings. Breastfeeding in itself, isn’t affected by these. At least for 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, the cost of an extra mouth to feed is not an additional worry, and breastfeeding’s nutritional value persists for as long as it happens.

In breastfeeding, the poor have access to excellent nutrition and food security for their infant from birth, and without added expense.

It’s also great for those who are not poor, even if they live in a country with stable electricity and good water supply, as well as specific child based governmental financial support. Breastfeeding’s nutritional value and its outcomes still applies, its safety remains unparalleled, and its monetary cost is competitive – none to however much you want to spend on breastfeeding related products.

What does this theme mean to me?

Well, it reflects my experience, albeit within the context of living in a high-income country.

Unfortunately, our breastfeeding start wasn’t the best, thanks to insufficient information and lack of enough helpful support from the medical professionals that worked with us. Even then, we breastfed within the first hour of (a difficult) birth

I watched my son grow on my milk, despite all the weight gain dramas we had, as I worked my socks off to overcome the top up trap – first with formula, then breastmilk (more on these in future posts) – we fell into. I tell you, words can’t capture how much our breastfeeding journey did for my mothering and person.

With breastfeeding, my baby’s hunger was satisfied whenever we were out and about, though my confidence about feeding in public took a while to grow. When he started solids, breastfeeding saved my days, whenever I forgot his food at home or didn’t manage to get food ready on time. And lastly, breastfeeding saved us lots of money, and significantly reduced our increased expense due to the expansion of our family.

Breastfeeding, no doubt is one of the keys to nutrition, food security and poverty reduction.

What do you think?

Answer this question as one of your entries into one of my Breastfeeding Awareness Month’s giveaway – Win a box of 14 Mothers Love Cookies (Wed 10 Aug 16 – Tue 23 Aug 16)

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Founder | Writer I Editor I Manager
First-time Mum / Freelance Writer / Thinker / Educator / Business graduate / Improving Photographer / so much more. \\ Recording my mu-m-sings from the South East of England | Sharing lessons from my life’s journey to encourage and inspire | Filled with gratitude for my faith, family, and friends.

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Founder | Writer I Editor I Manager
First-time Mum / Freelance Writer / Thinker / Educator / Business graduate / Improving Photographer / so much more. \\ Recording my mu-m-sings from the South East of England | Sharing lessons from my life’s journey to encourage and inspire | Filled with gratitude for my faith, family, and friends.

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Uttar Pradesh Fails to Ensure Food Security Amidst Rising Hunger

Uttar Pradesh Fails to Ensure Food Security Amidst Rising Hunger

Madhuri Chauhan- Uttar Pradesh Madhuri Chauhan primarily reports on issues related to gender, women’s rights, and government programmes. Madhuri Chauhan has been a leader since a young age. When her father died, her mother faced stigma, thanks to superstitious beliefs that she had caused the death. As her mother struggled, Madhuri found ways to support the family. She completed her education and became a teacher, despite the discrimination she faced because she was a girl. Her success made her a role model for other girls, and she quickly became the community’s leading activist for women’s rights. She reports for VV…

A village in the Kushinagar lives on the brink of malnourishment as the Public Distribution System fails to deliver to the most disenfranchised. Or, fails to ensure last mile service delivery.

India ranks 103 out of 119 countries on this year’s Global Hunger Index which categories India under the ‘serious’ category and its score close to the ‘alarming’ category. The index is based on four key indicators — undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting and child stunting.

Both central and state governments run schemes to counter rising hunger through the Public Distribution System which guarantees households, both below and above the poverty line monthly subsidised ration. The government also runs targeted schemes for children and pregnant and lactating women through the Integrated Child Development Services, and most recently, through the Poshan Abhiyan. But it is ground-level implementation where schemes often run into roadblocks. A visit to  Kasya, in Kushinagar district, reveals the lapses in last mile service delivery.

“The PDS dealer said that we are not getting ration because our names have been struck off the list and the list has not been updated yet,” says Shanti, whose family hasn’t received ration since June this year. Shanti Devi’s family of five is recognised as a Priority Household (PHH) under the Public Distribution System (PDS).

PHH card holders are entitled to five kilograms of foodgrain per member per family at the rate of three rupees per kilogram of rice, two rupees for wheat and one rupee for coarse grains. Without subsidised ration supply, the families in Kushinagar are spending up to 20 rupees per kilogram of rice. The PHH card is a replacement for the BPL card issued to households living below the poverty line. Under the new definition, households headed by a single women, widows, persons with disabilities and households comprising agricultural labourers who meet the annual income cap  are eligible for PHH cards. Exclusion criteria like the ownership of assets, occupation and tax brackets also apply to both rural and urban areas.

Shanti Devi’s family is not the only one bearing the brunt of irregularities in the PDS records. , an activist from Kushinagar, says that irregularities are common. “If there are 10-20 members in a family, only four of them may have their names on the PHH list, and even out of those four members, only two may actually get the ration,” she says.

Bano adds that there at least 50 people in the area whose ration cards have not been made by the PDS officials yet. This is not uncommon either; in Sitapur, another district in Uttar Pradesh, Community Correspondent Harishankar Gupta that 17 families have been waiting for their ration cards for ten years now. In yet another case, this time from Chhattisgarh, Community Correspondent Reena Ramteke found that .

The residents of Kushinagar, especially the women, have approached various persons in positions of authority, starting from the village head right up to the Block Development Officer, but to no avail. When Madhuri and the community met the PDS dealer in September, he told them that the ration shop was facing a shortage of supplies and that they would start to distribute the ration in a month. But two months later, the ration is still not reaching people’s homes.

To solve the problems that lead to irregularity in records and to curb corruption in the scheme, a have been proposed, including end to end computerisation and automation of the ration shops. As of now, ration cards are not portable, resulting in a loss for those who migrate because of work, marriage or otherwise; portability is another proposed reform and has been . Another reform, a widely criticised one, has been the , tested in states like Jharkhand. For families that rely on daily wages for their sustenance, giving up a day’s work to wait in line at a bank, sometimes only to be turned away, direct benefit transfers are of no use. The scheme should instead focus on efficient ration shops.

To support the community in Kasya, Kushinagar, call the Sub-Divisional Magistrate at +91- 9454416284 and urge him to look into the PDS irregularities.

Video by Community Correspondent Madhuri Chauhan

Article by Alankrita Anand, a member of the VV Editorial Team