“A transformation of the food systems is essential to meet the challenges of India’s projected population growth and climate change impacts by 2047.” Discuss.


The next government must focus on fixing India’s food systems – raising productivity in agriculture, scaling up processing and retailing, and facilitating the adoption of new technologies.


  • Introduce your answer by highlighting the urgency of transforming India’s food systems due to escalating challenges from population growth and climate change.
  • In the main body, discuss the need for transformation – rising population demand, climate impacts, urbanization, resource scarcity, fragmented landholdings, low farmer income, etc. Next address the measures needed for transformation like enhancing agricultural productivity, promoting sustainable practices, empowering farmers through FPOs, infrastructure, subsidy reforms, etc.
  • Conclude by reiterating the critical need for a holistic strategy and collaborative efforts to secure India’s food security.


India’s food security faces significant challenges due to projected population growth and the growing threat of climate change. To ensure food security and meet the nutritional needs of its future population, a comprehensive transformation of India’s food systems is necessary.

Need for Transformation of Food Systems:

  • Rising Population and Demand: India’s population is projected to reach 1.6 billion by 2047, leading to an increased demand for food. This necessitates a significant increase in agricultural productivity.
  • Climate Change Impact: Extreme weather events due to climate change are jeopardizing agricultural production. Investments in climate-resilient agriculture are crucial.
  • Urbanization: By 2047, more than two-thirds of India will be living in urban areas — up from about 36 per cent today. The implication of this is that much of the food will have to be moved from the hinterlands to urban areas.
  • Resource Scarcity: Water scarcity is a major concern. Sustainable water management practices and efficient use of resources are essential.
    • Almost 78 per cent of India’s freshwater is used for agriculture.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies: Malnutrition, particularly among children, remains a challenge. Food systems need to prioritize not just food security but also nutritional security.
  • Fragmented Landholdings: The average landholding size is shrinking. The average size of landholding has decreased from 2.28 hectares in 1970-71 to 1.08 hectares in 2015-16.
  • High Post-harvest Losses: due to inadequate infrastructure and inefficient logistics need to be addressed.
  • Low Farmer Income: disincentivizes investment in productivity-enhancing technologies. Subsidy reforms are required to improve farmer livelihoods.
    • Average monthly income of a farmer household is just Rs. 10,218/- in 2019.

Measures Needed to Transform Food Systems:

  • Enhancing Productivity: Promote climate-resilient seeds, precision agriculture techniques, and increased investment in agricultural R&D.
  • Climate-Resilient Agriculture: Invest in heat and flood-resistant seeds, water conservation technologies, and efficient irrigation systems.
  • Sustainable Resource Management: Promote soil health management, judicious use of fertilizers, and adoption of water-saving irrigation practices.
    • Soil health card and the “More crop per drop” initiatives
  • Nutritional Security: Fortify staple foods with micro-nutrients, promote dietary diversification, and address factors like sanitation and women’s education that influence nutrition.
    • Introduction of zinc-rich and beta carotene-enriched crops like golden rice.
  • Empowering Farmers: Shift from input subsidies to direct income transfers, and facilitate the formation of FPOs for better market access and bargaining power.
    • Formation and Promotion of 10,000 Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs).
  • Infrastructure Development: Invest in storage facilities, cold chains, and efficient logistics networks to minimize post-harvest losses.
    • Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) and Scheme for Integrated Cold Chain & Value Addition Infrastructure.
  • Public-Private Partnerships: Encourage private sector investment in processing, value chains, and development of climate-resilient and nutritious seeds.
  • Subsidy Reforms: Re-purpose current subsidy regimes for targeted benefits and invest the savings in improving food system resilience and nutrition.
  • Legal and Policy Frameworks: Many of our laws are those we inherited from the British in 1947. A fresh set of rules that are more market-aligned would be the need of the hour to build efficient value chains.
    • Modification of the Essential Commodities Act to prevent arbitrary stock limits and promote a stable trading environment.

Transforming India’s food systems is critical to ensure food security and meet the nutritional needs of its future population. By adopting a holistic strategy and fostering collaboration between various stakeholders, India can build a resilient and sustainable food system for a Viksit Bharat.

‘+1’ Value Addition:

  • The agricultural GDP growth dropped from 4.7% in FY 2022-23 to just 0.7% in FY 2023-24 due to climate impacts.
  • A minimum of 25 to 30 per cent of the Rs 4 trillion subsidy on food and fertilisers can be saved if we move from the price-subsidy approach to direct income transfers for beneficiaries.
  • Government has approved the “World’s Largest Grain Storage Plan in Cooperative Sector” in 2023, which is being rolled out as a Pilot Project in different states/UTs.
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