Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said that the Indian journey of the WFP was very good, adding that the food agency was working with the Department of Food and Public Distribution.
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner has a unique India link that goes back to the 1960s. For pop culture, it was swinging 60s, but for India, it was an era of foodgrain shortage and struggle of feeding lakhs of the population. It was then that the United Nation’s newly-formed World Food Programme began its operations in India in 1963 and helped the country to win the war against hunger, an IE report said. Announcing the prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in a statement that the WFP had been chosen because of its work in combating hunger and bettering the situation in areas where peace has been affected due to conflict.
It added that the organisation acted as a driving force in the efforts to ensure the prevention of hunger being used as a weapon of conflict as well as war.
The report stated that in India, the Nobel winning agency has been working in tandem with the government to carry out several reforms in the Public Distribution System (PDS). Apart from that, the WFP has also engineered several innovative schemes including ATMs for rice or the automatic grain dispensers to plug in the leakages and malpractices in the current shop-based distribution system.
The report quoted Bishow Parajuli, the WFP Representative and Country Director in India, as saying that they believed fixing the food system challenges, especially during the pandemic, had three central pillars — resilient food systems, social protection schemes at a national level as well as school-based programmes for the basic delivery of food and nutrition.
WFP India said that while it had been focusing on transformation of the targeted public distribution system, it was also working on fortifying the food distribution undertaken as part of the mid-day meal scheme.
Since December 2018, as many as 3 lakh school children have received 4,145 metric tonnes of fortified rice as part of a pilot programme being carried out in Varanasi, the WFP India has been cited by the report as saying.
In the middle of the pandemic, the WFP also signed a deal with the State Rural Livelihood Mission in Uttar Pradesh, as per which technical assistance would be provided by the food agency to set up supplementary nutrition production units in 18 districts.
The report also quoted Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey as saying that the Indian journey of the WFP was very good, adding that the food agency was working with the Department of Food and Public Distribution in supply chain and rice fortification. Pandey added that the agency was also raising awareness on the best practices that could be undertaken in the food sector.
Pandey added that the process of an MoU between WFP and the Food Corporation of India is also being finalised.
Apart from that, the pilot of WFP’s Annapurti programme has also received an in-principle approval from the Centre. Under the scheme, automatic grain dispensers would be established in five locations in UP, Karnataka, Haryana, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand. WFP India said that these dispensers became even more critical and relevant during the pandemic, as they would allow beneficiaries to avail accurate entitlements at any time they want, while also minimising human contact.