About Sustainability…

SDG2: Zero Hunger

August 25, 2022 Institute for Global Environmental Strategies Season 1 Episode 10
About Sustainability…
SDG2: Zero Hunger
Show Notes Transcript

In the second episode of our series on SDGs, Simon, Andre and Erin invited Prabhakar SVRK, who knows a lot about climate adaptation, food and agriculture. Focusing on SDG2 on Zero Hunger, we talked about the challenges to achieve a world free from hunger while trying to reduce fossil fuel use to limit climate change, given the significant fossil fuel-based inputs in our current food system. It seems the world is producing enough food or has potential to do so, but that distribution, access and sustainability of production remain a problem. 

In this episode, we covered the world’s progress on SDG2; why we can’t solve this fundamental problem; the issue of production vs. access to food; extensive vs. intensive agriculture; globalized food supply chains; the role of innovation; food loss and food waste, and more.

Related links

About our guest:

Sivapuram Ventaka Rama Krishna Prabhakar (referred to as “Prabhakar” in the episode) is a Principal Policy Researcher in the Adaptation and Water unit at IGES. He specialises in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, as well as agriculture, food and energy-related issues.

About this podcast:

"About Sustainability..." is a podcast brought to you by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), an environmental policy think-tank based in Hayama, Japan. IGES experts are concerned with environmental and sustainability challenges including, but not limited to, climate change; biodiversity and ecosystems; sustainable consumption and production; the Sustainable Development Goals; and overarching governance issues. Harnessing this expertise, the podcast serves to discuss and draw attention to contemporary issues and events relevant to sustainability with a frank reflective discussion from both within and beyond the Institute.

Everything shared on the podcast will be off-the-cuff discussion, and any viewpoints expressed are those held by the speaker at the time of recording. They are not necessarily official IGES positions.


Simon:

Hello and welcome to the IGES podcast, About Sustainability.. . In this episode, we had a very interesting exchange with Prabhakar, who is one of our good colleagues on SDG2 on No Hunger. Prabhakar knows a lot about adaptation, food and agriculture and how they are linked. During our discussion, we talked about the challenges to achieve a world free from hunger while trying to reduce fossil fuel use to limit climate change. It seems the world is producing enough food or has potential to do so, but that distribution, access and sustainability of production remain a problem. We also found that it will be challenging to produce food for eight billion people on the planet without degrading lands and soils and without food production and transport contributing to climate change. Some of the possible solutions going forward, which we discussed, include organic agriculture, technology, land and seed ownership and genetically modified organisms (or GMOs). There is no silver bullet solution to eradicate world hunger, but there are various promising approaches. Please join us and listen to this episode. Welcome everybody to the 11th episode of the IGES podcast, About Sustainability... . Today with us, we have a good colleague, Prabhakar, and Prabhakar has been with IGES for several years and he has a lot of experience on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. But he's also worked on conservation, farming and done crop simulation modelling and all kinds of things related to food and food security. And that's why we have him on today, because today's episode is going to be about SDG 2 on No Hunger, on the whole food question. So that's what we'd like to discuss. My name is Simon, and with me I have my two co-hosts, Erin and André. So welcome, everybody. Prabhakar, what is, in your view, the current situation with world hunger? Can you say a little bit about whether we are on track to meet the SDG2 by the end date of 2030 or not? I mean, where are we?

Prabhakar:

Yeah. Yeah. Thank you very much, Simon and other co-hosts, for this opportunity. So basically, if you look at world hunger, we are nowhere near to achieving the 2030 target of zero hunger. I think, until 2015, the world hunger trends looked a little bit satisfactory. But then afterwards, the trends are completely against our favour. World hunger again started increasing substantially, maybe because of a lot of factors. Some of them are within our hands - because we were fighting among each other, other wars, internal conflict and also related to fuel prices, as well as, you know, climate change and natural disasters. It's not one reason. Many factors are contributing to it. While governments are continuing to fight against hunger - it's not that they stop fighting for it, but - these other factors, they have overpowered our efforts. So most recently, we have seen COVID-19. Of course, COVID-19 has affected not just the health of the people, but also agriculture production systems, as well as supply systems, supply chains globally. And most recently, we have seen the Ukraine war as well - war between Russia and Ukraine that is affecting the global food security to a large extent. So going by these trends, we are by far missing the target. I haven't seen any projections by how many years we have missed the target. It's not that even before these things happened, we were able to meet the target. But then these new developments have made it really difficult for us to meet the target. Yeah.

Simon:

Right. The UN said in 2021 - that was before Ukraine, I suppose - the number of people affected by hunger globally rose to as many as 828 million in 2021. So 828 million - that's almost 1 billion. That's an increase of about 46 million since the previous year and an increase of 150 million since the outbreak of COVID-19. So as you said, Prabhakar, so COVID-19 cost a backslide on food security, on achieving SDG2. And that has been, you're saying, so it's the pandemic, but it's also conflict that is disrupting this, isn't it?

Prabhakar:

Yes, of course. Undoubtedly, [they] are systemically disrupting across the world. It's not only disrupting the international food supply chains, even the local food supply chains are affected because people's interaction is affected. We can't go to markets to procure food. Food is not available at the same cost [as] before the COVID crisis, COVID-19. Food prices have substantially increased, not only because of the limited access, but also because of the increase in food fuel prices. So the transportation costs have increased substantially and the poor are the most affected because of COVID-19. So if you look at the responses of the national governments to COVID-19, it is not just the physical isolation. They are spending millions of dollars on providing cheap food and free food to the most vulnerable sections of the countries. For example, if you look at the government of India, it boasts that it [was] able to feed nearly hundreds of millions of people additional to what the government has already been providing through its public distribution systems during COVID-19. And these interventions have been widely acclaimed both by the WEF, our World Health Organization and the many other developed nations as well. The ability of the government to mobilise the resources and reach out to the most poor to meet their, you know, food requirements and nutrition requirements. There are estimates that, you know, in absence of these, you know, supplies are, you know, by the government, food security would have been reduced by a minimum 15 to 20%. The population will become more food-insecure.

Simon:

Okay. So do you mean that the support provided by the governments - your example, the Indian government - that support provided has really taken the brunt of this food insecurity-

Prabhakar:

Yes.

Simon:

-disaster. And it has helped where crucial help was needed.

Prabhakar:

Yes.

Simon:

It is not like hunger and food insecurity was not a problem before the pandemic or before the Ukraine war. It has been a problem. And I'm wondering, you know, "no hunger" or working towards reducing food insecurity - that was a goal under the Millennium Development Goals, and it is SDG2 to under the Sustainable Development Goals. So it seems that hunger has been this persistent development challenge for a long time. The pandemic has made it worse and the war is making it worse. And other factors we might get into is making it worse. But it's not like it wasn't a problem before. Why is it that we can't just tackle this very fundamental problem?

Prabhakar:

Yes, that's a very good question. This is the same question you can [ask] for poverty as well. You know, poverty has been there for ages. And why we have not been able to tackle poverty? Because of our governance systems, the resources that are available for the countries... There are a lot of factors that are intermingled. And where do we start? It's like a chicken- and-egg dilemma. For me at least. It's such a complex problem. But why food security and the hunger has been such a problem? Let us delve into that. First of all, food hunger is not just an end user problem, you know. If it's just that food is available in the market and if it's not accessible, then you know that, you know, okay, you just give money to the people [so that] they can buy and you know - or maybe you can provide the food cheaply to the poor. But the problem is much more complex than that. You have areas where you can't access physical food at all. Food is not available. For a major part of the human history, food availability has been a problem. Okay, before the Green Revolution, for example, we used to have major famines. We don't have any famines today because we have come across- we have overcome the problem of food- the "quantity of food" problem.

Erin:

Sorry, just before- what is the Green Revolution? Can you briefly describe what that is? Yeah.

Prabhakar:

Okay. So before the 1950s and 60s, food production used to rely upon low-input agriculture and also rely upon crop varieties that don't respond to external inputs like fertilisers and pesticides and irrigation. So because these are not improved varieties, the productivity of these crops were very low. For example, rice used to produce maximum 300 kg, 500 kg per hectare. You know, that same amount of the yield that we are talking [about], pre-Green Revolution era. And what happened was that during the 1960s and late 1950s, there was a influx of four new varieties - high-yielding varieties, which are dwarf in nature, and they are also highly responsive to external inputs like, you know, irrigation... Basically, importantly, the fertilisers. And they can be grown very near to each other. So the spacing between the plants can be very close compared to the traditional varieties, which grow very large. So they need larger spacing, so you can't grow too much crop in the per unit area. So the unit-area intensification has increased. So with that, we were able to produce much more. Now if you look at rice yields, on average, we are producing 2.6, 2.7 tonnes. But if we look at the maximum yields, you can see areas where even farmers are producing ten tonnes, eight tonnes per hectare. So that is a several multiple folds in productivity per unit area with the Green Revolution. So with the Green Revolution, we have overcome the production problem and quantity problem. You know, we don't have [anymore] a quantity problem. Now what we have is an inequality problem. We have "haves" and "have-nots" and poverty is highly linked with the food security as well (hunger). And because of this, you know - probably we'll come to the discussion later, the linkages between different, you know, SDGs - the way the poverty is defined earlier, even today in most parts of the world, is the amount of food expenditure that you spend to- for your basic needs. And the important the basic need is food. And even today, many countries don't consider many other requirements, like your energy requirement, your residential requirement, your transportation, you know, whatnot, your education and things like that. So the food is- food is considered as the most important element. Probably 60%, 70% of the expenditure is considered to be food. So because of that, there are high linkages with poverty. And our inability to bring out the people from poverty has led to inequality, and as well as limited access to the food that is available in the market.

Simon:

Right. Yeah. So maybe I can- we can say a little bit about different forms of agricultural production or different approaches to agriculture. There a couple of approaches, right? This intensive agriculture and extensive agriculture. And you talked about before the Green Revolution, it was, I suppose, non-intensive agriculture. So these are different approaches to food production. But in different areas of the world, there are different approaches to food production and agriculture. But despite that, we have not yet been able to to eliminate the the hunger problem, right?

Prabhakar:

Yeah. So going back to the same point that I made earlier, we are no more talking about the quantity problem in most parts of the world. You know, only in parts of Africa and in some parts of Asia, probably, the quantity of food is a problem. And if you look at the global scale, we have enough food to feed millions. It's only a geographical distribution problem. It's a supply problem. It's a market imperfection problem, as well as an access problem, the economic- in terms of the ability to purchase the food in the market. Okay, just keep that point- that for sure is there. The second point is whether we want extensive farming or intensive farming and which is good for hunger - you know, to mitigate the hunger. I would say that, you know, of course, I have not come up with the- we can do a lot of back-of-the- envelope calculations [like], if extensive farming can produce this much of agriculture and in this much of food, how many people can it feed? We can do that calculation and maybe we can say, with the current global, you know, resource boundaries that we are talking about, probably extensive agriculture is not the solution. Because once we talk about extensive agriculture, even there is a lot of competitive use of the land for, you know, urbanisation, expansion of the population, industrialisation... And also we have very limited land to expand because a lot of land is already degraded and the pristine lands are no more available unless / otherwise you want to cut down the pristine forests and convert them into agriculture. And that is a sustainability problem.

André:

Can you just define extensive agriculture and intensive agriculture? Because not that obvious.

Prabhakar:

Extensive agriculture these we are not for...So take your example of, you want to produce ten tonnes per hectare, okay. Ten tonnes of food. Okay. And right now we are producing one tonne from your whatever the geographical area you have in question. And in order to produce 10 tonnes, you are simply expanding the area for agriculture. So that is extensive agriculture. So, I mean, if you are talking at the household level, I can't expand the land because you say how to expand the land, then I need to buy the land, then I need to have the resources to buy the land. And there should be somebody who is willing to sell the land, you know? So those complications come in to-

André:

So it's simply food production per unit area. Is it as simple as that or is it- is that a oversimplification of the definition?

Prabhakar:

I think.. . Yeah. So basically when we want to expand our production, we are simply looking at the solution of expanding the area for agriculture. Okay? But on the intensive agriculture side, we are not looking at as much of expansion of the land itself, but more about intensification within the land that we already have at hand. So that means that, you know, for example, as I said in the Green Revolution, what we did was basically intensification. We brought more number of plants that can be planted within the unit area, and we increased those plants' ability to uptake nutrients at higher rate so that those are highly fertiliser-responsive, input-responsive varieties so they can harvest much more solar radiation because it's all about- agriculture is about harvesting solar radiation. So either you expand your land so that you harvest more solar radiation in that way or you expand the intensity of the crop within the unit area, and so that you increase the surface area of the crop, so that you can increase the solar radiation capture. And ultimately your productivity goes up in the unit area. But that's not the problem. You know, intensification and extensification are not the problem by concepts themselves. The problem is what are the pathways that we have taken for intensification and what are the pathways that we have taken for extensification? Of course, the land is always coming from forests. You know, there is no- I mean, the original land is always forests. If you look at even before humans-

André:

Or natural vegetation of some kind, right?

Prabhakar:

Natural vegetation. Forests and all that. So the way we expand it is, of course - I don't know where at any point of our horizontal expansion of agriculture we ever thought about what we are doing wrong by cutting down forests. It's only much later in, you know, Johannesburg Plan of [Implementation] and other environmental revolution globally that happened that we started-

Simon:

So in the last couple of decades.

Prabhakar:

Yeah, in the last couple of decades that we had started thinking about- "oh, forests are important and we shouldn't be cutting the forests because they have a lot of other, you know, services and products that they can offer to the world, beyond just being.. Just sitting plants, trees there. That is one problem. The second problem is intensification. How are we intensifying? We are intensifying by depending on fossil fuels, because you need to produce a lot of little fertilisers and [a lot] of this fertiliser production is highly energy-intensive. Okay?

Simon:

Yeah.

Prabhakar:

So this is leading to GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions - that is one thing. The second aspect is we are bringing a lot of fertilisers into the land without thinking about the balance of nutrient application. And by that, we are spoiling the soil and chemical composition, its physical properties. So slowly, the soils have started degrading, you know, [with greater] salinisation and the acidification and whatnot, and also in many places... Of course, because we have high yielding varieties, but we are not applying balanced fertilisation. So we are also over-depleting the soils as well in other parts of the world. Yeah.

Simon:

So Prabhakar. So... Okay. So you're saying by explaining the different approaches to food production, intensive and extensive... I mean, when you say "extensive", I get to think about those huge pastures of fields in the United States where the farmer needs to get into his or her helicopter to check the boundaries of the field. That's the types of areas we are thinking about when we talk about extensive agriculture. But where I'm from in Europe, there are no such big fields. And when we get closer to Asia and Japan, the fields become even smaller because the amount of land is constrained. So we need different approaches. But no matter what, you're saying that there are limitations to those approaches to agriculture, as you're saying. We destroy the forest, we remove carbon sinks, we deplete the soil... So that means if we should meet SDG2 - that means, if we should eliminate hunger by the current approaches to agriculture - we would cause setbacks in other important sustainability areas, you know, such as climate change or, you know, SDG 12 on sustainable consumption [and production] and whatnot. So then if those approaches don't work, so what... What do we do?

Prabhakar:

Okay, so now we have come to the question of whether or not can we feed the world without having to do extensification or intensification. Of course we can do that. And there is a lot of research that says that we can do it in a sustainable manner. Recently, I have seen a paper draft authored by Professor [Cynthia] Rosensweig, and they, the authors, have listed the several ways that we can do. Let me go beyond the authors- what authors have said. Just looking at the- what you call the "basket" of solutions that we have in front of us... Right away, we can look at the geographical regions of the world where we have already drastically affected agriculture productivity, where the total factor productivity is coming down. Okay? So we can look at these areas and we can try to improve the sustainability in these areas and try to introduce environmentally best practices, you know, including organic agriculture or balanced nutrification or using organic fertilisers and pesticides, even if you don't want to call [those products] organic agriculture. And we can make these soils sustainable over the period. Well, that kind of approach we can take in this particular area. In other areas, we haven't even reached the, you know, tipping point that other areas have reached. For example, many parts of Africa, the input in agriculture is very, very far below the global average. So we have higher potential to increase food productivity there while still being within the, you know, environmental boundaries that the environment can allow us, that nature can allow us. So this is the kind of a multipronged and also very location-specific approach we can take within the available agriculture land that we have. Beyond that, I think, you know, there are several approaches. For example, we are talking about climate- smart agriculture, where we can take the opportunities that climate change is providing- because of [global] warming, new and new areas are coming into, you know, agriculture production that we can think of, vertically as well as horizontally. And secondly, also, we can also think about mitigating the impacts of climate change, including disasters, because every year, natural disasters like floods, typhoons and droughts - they affect agriculture production substantially. You know, I keep on taking the example of India, wherein in the 2004 and 2005 drought - that has affected the rice production so much that the country took nearly six years to revive to the level of the pre- drought agriculture production. So even though the monsoon has revived immediately, we have seen that the farmers are so much affected with one drought because they don't have seeds. They don't have fertilisers. They don't have access to these market inputs. They don't have money to invest because they have already lost the money in the investments that they have made in the 2004 and 2005 crops. So the debt that the farmers have and even the governments to respond to the crisis - it took a lot of time. So if you could address these kind of shocks, the annual shocks that we face every time, I think we can save a lot of food that is lost even before it is reaching the markets. And if you talk about the entire lifecycle of the food from the farm to the plate, you can think about a lot of food losses in, I think, in the food processing facilities, for example, in storage as well as in home consumption. So if you can add this to all these losses, including one of the solutions that Rosenzweig and her colleagues have suggested, there is a lot of opportunity for us to meet the food, you know, sustainability as well as food security goals, even without harming the environment. And we don't need to necessarily talk about converting the entire world's agriculture into organic agriculture at all.

Simon:

Hmm.

Prabhakar:

Yeah.

Simon:

But some areas would be good.

Prabhakar:

Yeah. You need to choose, pick and choose areas where which are necessary candidate for organic agriculture. Well, the recent example that has become a candidate for a negative example for organic agriculture is Sri Lanka. You know, unfortunately, there's a sudden- it's a conglomeration of many factors. Of course, we can't just attribute to organic agriculture itself, but, you know, we need to look into a prudent way of employing organic agriculture.

Simon:

Right. Yeah. So what you're talking about is also a sort of the whole energy calculation - input, output. You have implied that before, a few minutes ago, that we need to reduce the energy input to the calorie input to the calorie output that we get from foods. Otherwise, those calories all just comes through fossil fuels. And if we have to, you know- if we have to limit global warming or climate change, we need to reduce the use of those fossil fuels. So that necessarily requires, I think, a creative approach to agriculture. If I look at the SDG2 targets - for example, Target 2. 3 - It talks about doubling the agricultural productivity to improve the incomes of farmers and small scale food producers and so on. The challenge is going to be, so how do you double the agricultural productivity without using more fossil fuel- fossil-fuel based fertiliser, right?

Prabhakar:

Yeah. Wonderful. So let us look at the energy consumption in agriculture right now. So if you look at fertilisers, the nitrogen fertilisers, usually, for example, nitrogen fertilisers globally - they produce nearly about, I think, in the range of 190 to 200 million tonnes of ammonia every year. And the major part [of this] is produced by China, India and other countries-

André:

And Russia.

Prabhakar:

Yes, they take nearly 30 to 35 gigajoules of energy per tonne of ammonia that is produced. Okay. And for the phosphorus fertilisers, we are talking about in the range of five gigajoules of energy production. So the aggregate of fertiliser production is highly energy-intensive. However, we cannot blame fertilisers alone. You know, fertilisers are only one of the inputs for agriculture production. And I was looking at various other energy inputs in agriculture. For example, you take the example of the cotton. Cotton as an input - there are calculations which says that the total input is 29 gigajoules. Okay? You can include fertilisers, fuel that you consume on the farm because you want to pump the water, you want to spray some fertilisers, you know, things like that. You want to till the land, you know, you want to use a tractor. For all that you need direct gasoline consumption on the farm. If you convert the cotton output that is producing 56 granules. Okay? So the ratio is, for every gigajoules of inputs, you are producing 1.93 gigajoules of the output in the case of cotton. So that is pretty much-

Simon:

So that's energy-positive.

Prabhakar:

That is very much positive so I think, when I looked at your question, I thought probably you are implying, are we on the negative side of the energy consumption?

Simon:

Yes.

Prabhakar:

And of course, I thought, okay, cotton is on the other extreme. And let me look at sugarcane. Sugarcane is also one of the highly resource- intensive crops, but it's not the same in the case of sugarcane. In sugarcane, we are looking at 148 gigajoules per hectare of energy input, whereas the energy output is only 112 gigajoules. So that means I mean, because it's a ratio, we don't see it's negative, but it's less than one. But if you compare between cotton and sugarcane, in cotton, it is mostly the fertilisers that is leading to your, you know, energy consumption, whereas in sugarcane, it is irrigation water. And you can say the same in the case of rice - it is the fertilisers. But we can't really generalise these things because it depends on under what production systems you are estimating these inputs and outputs. Okay? So if you look at organic agriculture, organic agriculture does not define non-use of fossil fuels. Please mind. So an organic farmer can still use a tractor. He can still use gasoline-used blowers for spraying, you know, biopesticides, you know, bio fertilisers and things like that. So he's still dependent upon the fossil fuels for his organic agriculture. In that case, you can say that it is much more- the ratio is much more towards- on the higher side above one. But in many other crops it could be much below. Now, so having understood that particular question now- let us come to the question of how can we produce the same amount of food while not investing the same amount of energy? Okay, so why are we investing so much energy? We are investing so much energy because we want to make sure- we want to capture as much solar radiation as possible and the limitations of biological to begin with. So for example, in agriculture, we talk about C3 crops and C4 crops. So C3 crops are, in general, they are efficient in conversion of solar radiation compared to C4 crops. So the relative differences are there. So we don't have many C4 crops, we have many C3 crops. Basically, we are dependent on C4 crops and how do we, you know, increase the efficiency of the C4 crops to capture more solar radiation in an efficient manner. And we are talking about, you know, in this case probably the carbon dioxide fertilisation and things like that, which is not yet [applicable]. I mean, it's not still widely- You can do that in a greenhouse context, but probably not in an open environment like [how] we produce rice and wheat and maize, in the open fields. Okay, keep that aside. So the second way of increasing the efficiency of energy conversion is relying upon non-fossil fuel sources. For example, governments are already providing solar PV panels to pump the irrigation water for use in a lot of on-farm activities. I haven't seen many tractors that can run on solar PV - they still run on fossil fuels. And so I think tillage is one of the energy-intensive processes as well as harvesting as well because we are no more dependent on human labour, because human labour is hard to come by, even in developing world. So as long as we can't produce those harvesting machines as well as sowing machines that can use solar radiation or other non-fossil fuel energy, then we will be continuing to at least depend on fossil fuels for now. So-

Simon:

So Prabhakar, so you so so you're explaining that, that some of the inputs to the energy spreadsheet or the energy calculation in terms of how much energy it requires to grow a crop, some of those we can reduce by, say, relying on solar power instead of fossil fuels or others. But there may be- there may be other areas that where we haven't found an alternative yet to increase the efficiency of the conversion - that means, either by reducing the energy input or in some other way increasing the efficiency of solar energy conversion of the crop. Is that correct?

Prabhakar:

Yes. Yeah. Yeah.

Simon:

So how about how about the supply chain then?

Prabhakar:

Okay. So coming to the supply chain, of course, supply chain is a completely energy-intensive process depending on from what distance you are talking about. Many urban areas even in developing world... If I go to India, I see any supermarket, I see a lot of imported food coming from faraway countries. This, I have not seen ten years ago, 15 years ago. This is the thing that we have been seeing in Japan. Japan imports nearly 60% probably, if I am not wrong, average caloric consumption coming from outside its boundaries. So import dependency on food is a very, very important issue. And unfortunately, these global- I may be diverting little bit, but - the way the food security is estimated compared to between countries, if you look at Japan, it is estimated to have higher food security compared to countries that are self-sufficient, food self-sufficient because.... Yes.

Simon:

That's interesting.

Prabhakar:

To say that, because Japan has purchasing power, it's food secure. Of course, theoretically, it is, right? But then if you talk about supply chains and energy consumption and all that, it's not the case. Energy, I mean, in in true sense that Japan is not food secure. And so that's where it is, basically, in terms of how we are employing these different concepts.

Simon:

I see. To what extent do you think that technology can answer the question or technology is the answer? You know, can we innovate ourselves out of the constraint of producing food in a way that has less impact and that is more efficient so that we can feed everybody. Can be reliant on technology for that? What do we need?

Erin:

Oh, just to add on to that, I mean, you didn't mention GMOs [genetically modified organisms] at all, but that's kind of a big, you know, trend as well.

André:

The elephant in the room.

Erin:

Right. Yes. So I was wondering as well, like, you know, what role GMOs have to play.

Prabhakar:

Yeah. So let me answer the GMOs [question] first and then let's go to the broader question of the technologies. Of course, similar to organic agriculture, I would say that the jury's still out in terms of the GMOs. Earlier, I tried to do a lot of literature review on what is really the crux of the GMO problem. Is it really, you know, the health issues, the long- term health issues that is being feared widely, or are the fears kind of unfounded? I think it's a mixture of the problem. First of all, we don't have the evidence that, you know, to what extent these GMOs can have a negative impact on our health on the longer term. Probably we are still not very much far into GMO food. We don't have much experience so far. And also there are not many longitudinal studies that can systematically isolate. Because we are studying- we are not just living by eating GMO food. We are interacting with the wider environment, facing a lot of other chemicals. So it is very difficult to conduct a systematic study that can isolate the subjects from other chemical influences of the life that they are experiencing. So having said that, I think there are areas that we can, you know, systematically rely upon, for example, nutrient fortification, biofortification we are talking about now, which is a very good area for me because a lot of nutrients which we consume basically are carbide crops that are carbohydrate rich. And because of that, we are deprived of basically some of the essential vitamins, for example, vitamin E and iron is one of the focus areas of the biofortification. And

André:

so how would you fortify it and what would be the process- do you mean of post production fortification of...?

Prabhakar:

It is... It is... Of course. What I mean is by genetically modification, you can enhance the vitamin content in the crops, but also of course, after production also, you can enhance. For example, in in developed world,I can think that, you know, vitamin D is, for example, is mixed with your milk. Vitamin D-fortified milk has been sold in the market, but it is an entirely post-production process, as far as my understanding goes.

André:

But you were referring to the GMOs as a way of fortifying, which has been done with vitamin D as well.

Prabhakar:

Yes. So those we can do at least for a targeted population, which is highly deprived of these nutrient deficiencies- are deprived of these nutrients in parts of Asia and parts of Africa. That could still be a part of your solution arsenal, I would say. But still, you know, we still don't know what is going to be the long-term impact of these, you know, genetically modified organisms. So having said that about the wider technology, I think the technology cannot be or need not be necessarily the panacea, because a lot of the problem is not related to production. As I said, you know, your production problem is largely solved in many parts of the world. You can balance the production geographically. But I would say that, while we are balancing geographically, that means that we are heavily reliant upon the world food supply chains. So you are- so both of the models interdependent. Either you are dependent on your local agriculture and the local food production and think about intensification in other ways. Or you think about the geographical "balancification" between areas where there is a high intensification happening. You try to reduce the intensity there and try to increase the intensification in areas which hasn't [been intensified], and try to link these areas in terms of the supply chain. So that is one strategy. The second strategy is, of course, obviously you promote your local farmers and that obviously has a lot of productivity implications and also resource implications. For example, we are talking about urban agriculture today. Now urban areas are already highly energy-starved. You know, even in many metropolitan cities, we see blackouts in Asia, in parts of Asia. And water shortage is very much rampant. And if you are bringing agriculture or food production into urban areas, we are actually putting additional pressure on the urban environment, on food and energy, as well as the water resources. So there is another aspect to be considered, you know, when you want to reduce dependency on the, you know, externally produced food, I think we need to be more pragmatic and we have to be, you know, open in our approach. And we can- I think I prefer more towards "balancification" of our intensive areas being targeted to become more agricultural sustainable agriculture pathways and target other less intensified areas to catch up with other agriculture production. Yeah. So because the supply chains are there, now if you agree that, you know, [say that] you and me are the decision makers for the world today, then if you agree that, "okay, let's- Prabhakar, let us the balance the geographical areas," then you will say- maybe somebody else will say, "oh, what about supply chains? Because we have already seen supply chain disruptions, you know, during COVID. And can you guarantee that the supply chain disruptions doesn't happen because of the pandemics and wars?" Of course, we cannot guarantee. And also, if you look at the debates widely, we are seeing that, you know, the countries, some of the you know, voices - they are saying that essential goods and services have to be exempt from any disruptions. You know, you can choose, for example, energy, food... They can be exempt from transborder, you know, limitations, especially during the crisis such as war. For example, doctors without boundaries or beyond boundaries-

Erin:

Without Borders, yeah. [Referring to Medecins Sans Frontieres or Doctors Without Borders]

Prabhakar:

They can go in war areas without being shot. Isn't it [true]? So if you can put the life of the person a priority in war situations, you can also prioritise the life of the person who is the living far away, but is dependent upon the resources coming from the conflict zone. Okay? Can we think about, you know, World Trade Organization, you know, negotiating between countries to do something like that? Probably it is possible, if you think the human wellbeing in front, I think it is possible. So that is one approach to avoid the supply chain disruptions from human conflicts. But in terms of other conflicts, probably we need to look into more resilient supply chains. I was looking into the India- the food imported by India and you would be surprised that India is importing almost- I think my number, if you allow me to refer to my slide - in the case of India, you know, India imports a lot of food as well. And if you look at India's case, when we analysed during 2011 to 2020, 42% of the total food imports came from climatically vulnerable countries and 29% came from politically unstable countries. So you can- you can think of, you know, hunger and food security of countries is no more dependent upon the food production in the country itself. Because when we are talking about the balancing - geographical balancing - you are to depend upon the food that is produced outside and the situation of the countries outside your country is beyond your control. So what we have to do is- and the one of the problems with supply chains is they are not organic in nature. They are not as quick in nature as we want them to be, because it takes the years of establishing linkages with the new supply chains. And those supply chains cannot be modified in a short notice, like, like those that happen in a disaster or at a pandemic situation. You see? Now, if you remember, even the milk that is produced within a country had to be thrown out because many milk producers are producing for the restaurants and restaurants are closed. And because they can't pack the milk for consumers, because the consumers - they only buy one-litre, two-litre milk packs. But restaurants, they buy in tens of litres packs, probably, the quantities. So you don't have the packaging. Even you can't think about the repacking of existing goods for, you know, quickly targeting the consumer base within the country. So you can't really talk about, you know, establishing a new supply chain in the event of, you know, food loss somewhere else, because of the disaster, because of war. So we need to think about mapping alternate supply chains as a strategy by the individual countries and try to see have forward[-looking] agreements with those countries. Okay. We are already dependent on these sources traditionally, but this can also say that, "you know, we can no more [be] dependent upon these traditional sources. And we want to have an agreement with you for, you know, food supply or any other kind of supply chain realignment in the in the wake of a disruption". Probably this is not the exact way you do. But I'm just saying in colloquial terms and you need to have that kind of agreement with the multiple countries and a multiple supply chain providers, service providers in between. Yeah.

Simon:

So I like what you're saying, Prabhakar. You're laying it out basically as sort of, there are different options. There are no- there is no panacea, there's no silver bullet. But one of them in the future, as you're saying, will be to try to get to remove the trade or the supply chains of food, commodities of food, to reduce the risk related to conflict and political instability, basically saying that these items or sectors should be somehow protected or there should be an international agreement that whenever, if, unfortunately, there is a political conflict, those necessities should be beyond the conflict-

Prabhakar:

So, yeah, because the problem is not the quantity. The problem is about the access to the quantity. And the access is only by paying money. So the volatility of the food prices is a major issue. Food prices are affected by many things. If you look at the 2008 global food price crisis, you would be surprised to know that, you know, there are things happening across the world which seem to be not linked with each other at all. But at the end of the day, we have seen that the rice prices have increased so much, the wheat prices have increased so much because the drought in Australia and somewhere the land is converted away from, you know, agriculture, food and somewhere, the people are, you know, investing in food markets because the financial markets were down. So the investors saw the agriculture and food markets as a lucrative area to invest. So because of all these seemingly unrelated factors, we have seen that the food security of the millions of people in the developing world were severely affected.

Simon:

Right.

Prabhakar:

So we couldn't forecast that in 2008. And I am not sure whether we can forecast the same even today though, the agencies like FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] and I think even to some extent "IFRP" - they have tried to come up with a food price forecasting facility. I am not sure to what extent they were able to succeed in that and also to what extent it can really warn you before such a food price crisis happens.

Simon:

Prabhakar, what's the "IFRP"? International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPR). I see. Okay. IFPR, my bad. Okay. And so... But another issue is like, sometimes, as you also said, sometimes the political stability or instability or whatever crisis that might happen - if it's a drought or a fire - that is beyond the control of an international agreement, or sometimes there is no fertile ground for an international agreement. So in those cases, where possible, it makes sense, perhaps in the future to relocalise some of the food production in order to reduce to the risk of, you know, long supply chains being disrupted.

Prabhakar:

I'm not denying that, you know, we shouldn't be entirely dependent upon externally produced food. I'm saying that in the scenario of you and me agreeing that the geographical redistribution is a good strategy for the world, then we have to make sure that our supply chains are sacrosanct. They are not affected. They are not touched by any human factors. And we make sure that there is a sufficient redundancy and sufficient resiliency built into the supply chains so that they are not affected- they are not affecting the food security of the millions of the people. But I am not saying that that's the only approach. We can also think about food storage because a lot of food loss is also from the lack of food storage. On-farm food storage doesn't exist in many [parts of the] developing world. Farmers - they have to harvest today. And in many cases they have to immediately shift to the markets overnight. And because of the lack of a marketing- storage facilities, sometimes you see "gloom and glut". I think that "gloom and glut" is a kind of a cycle, you know, where farmers - all the farmers come to the harvest at the same time and you have to sell it - especially it happens in the case of the fresh produce, like vegetables and fruits - and you need to sell them because of the high supply and low demand. You are selling it even lower than the production costs. And in many parts of Asia, you will see during the gloom period- I mean, during the glut period, you will see that a lot of agriculture produce is thrown [away] in the agriculture fields itself because it's not profitable for farmers to take them to [the market]. So we need to promote, cooperate- at least at the cooperative level - some kind of cold storage facilities so that farmers can store the food produce, so that they can enjoy constant food prices over a period of time. And also we can avoid food loss, more importantly, and also the secondly, the more important distinction between developed country farmer and developing country farmer is the ability to process the food on the farm itself. If you look at the developed country farmers, they are able to process a lot of food produce on the farm itself. But it's not the case with the developing country farmers, even at the village or group- of-villages level. We don't have local food processing facilities sufficient enough to meet the demand. I think there are estimates that says that only 1% of the total food is processed in the developing world, which is very, very low. And there is a lot of potential. I think this is where the private sector can come in. They can invest in different models, you know, cost-sharing models, you know, things like that. And this problem can be and can be solved in a sustainable manner.

Erin:

By food processing, do you mean like packaging or... Like what do you mean exactly?

Prabhakar:

It's not just only the packaging, because once you harvest the food, food undergoes a lot of post-harvest operations, including, you know, quality, you know, maintenance of the quantity. You want to segregate the food into different quality standards. Also, you want to polish, in the case of rice. Also you want to, you know, convert into other value added goods, for example, you know, tomato puree, you know, or canned tomatoes and things like that.

Erin:

Right, right.

Simon:

Right. So instead of selling- or instead of selling sugarcane, you might have a facility that actually makes the sugar. And maybe there could be some byproducts of that production that that can also go back into the energy cycle. So-

Prabhakar:

That's right, that's right.

Simon:

There are some some good ideas there. But you mentioned food loss and storage facilities as also some things that I feel are part of the answer for how to tackle the hunger problem. But food loss actually, interestingly, global food loss and waste - I don't have the... I didn't pull up the data, but I think that it's substantive. There's a lot of food loss, but food loss is tackled under SDG12 on Sustainable Consumption and Production. There's the-

Prabhakar:

That's right.

Simon:

Uh, Target 12.3 to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels between 2015 and 2030. But I think- I'm not sure where we are with this, but I think with there's still some ways to go.

Prabhakar:

No, of course we are nowhere near limiting our food loss. Of course, this point comes back to the inter linkages between SDGs. Obviously, hunger is very much linked to many other SDGs - SDG5, SDG1, for example, SDG on climate change (SDG13). You have Life on Land (SDG15), Life below [Water] (SDG14). And of course, as you said, sustainable consumption and production (SDG12). All these as SDGs are highly linked with hunger. But coming to your food loss [question], you know, there is a UNEP report that says that nearly 30% of the total food globally is lost. That's a lot of amount. And even if I say that, if you can address that 30% itself, you can straightaway address your food access problem. You know, that's possible. You don't have to even bring additional land into intensive agriculture itself. Of course, I am not saying it out of a robust analysis, but by looking at sheer quantity-

Simon:

Right,

Prabhakar:

Of the food. The 30% amount itself is to me appears to be very sufficient to feed, you know, additional 500 million people or 600 million people.

Simon:

So, yeah, and it seems also just a- I mean, it seems also a bad business idea to lose 30% of your input.

Prabhakar:

It is a bad business idea. Unethical as well. Yeah, it is a bad business idea. It is unethical. Unethical. And also it is environmentally unsustainable because the food already has received a lot of environmental resources into it. Water has been applied. Fertilisers have been used. Farmers have invested their income in financial resources. So you'd say... you said total loss-

Erin:

And what happens to the food that is wasted? Where does it go?

Prabhakar:

Yeah. So interestingly, that obviously goes into the landfills.

Erin:

Okay.

Prabhakar:

Or the incinerators, but in Japan and also in many developing countries, there are a lot of initiatives. But these are very grassroots level initiatives. For example, NGOs are collecting [uneaten] food from five-star restaurants. You know, they are being supplied to, you know, poor people. And also there is a closed loop system. Examples in Japan, for example, where NGOs are promoting a collection of, you know, food waste from households and it is composted and given to the farmers and they are converting this amount into some kind of unit. So those units - you can trade in, in terms of [Japanese] yen. So for example, if you bring in one kg of food waste, probably you can get 10 Japanese yen, for example, you know? So that's very innovative. But, you know, there has to be some- So from where do you generate those resources? The 10 yen has to come from somewhere. So developing a business model out of such examples is very important and it can provide a solution as well.

Simon:

Yeah, maybe you could... maybe you could- Sorry. Maybe you could just reduce the fossil fuel subsidies by 10 yen and then per unit you have those 10 yen available to help create a business model for something that you just mentioned.

Prabhakar:

Oh, man, where can you put the fossil fuel subsidies? You can put them anywhere else. I mean, there are so many competing uses for fossil fuel subsidies, but there is no substitute for a life saved from, you know, lack of food. And that is the single most reason why the governments today are going beyond their limits to provide as many subsidies as possible. And this comes to the the distorted nature of world trade in terms of food. Even the SDGs, which I mean, I think probably I've come to the point where I can criticise them- one of the aspects of the SDG. It's that it wants to achieve the hunger without subsidies. It's like, you know, you are tying the legs of people and asking them to run.

André:

And do you-

Prabhakar:

And you are asking them to run by 2030.

Simon:

And run uphill.

Prabhakar:

Run uphill. So how can you do that ? So probably, I think, though, this is a negotiated goal. I'm not sure... probably countries are optimistic, I would say. Otherwise they wouldn't be agreeing to that kind of target, you know, to phase away the trade subsidies, export subsidies. But of course, obviously, just talking about export subsidies - a specific form of subsidy. But in general, we need in developing countries a targeted subsidy at least so that food can be made available at affordable cost to the poorest of the poor.

André:

Can I just- going back a little bit, Prabhakar, since the beginning, I've kind of been wondering about this relationship, and we spoke about it in the previous podcast discussion on SDG1 on poverty... You know, poverty has come into this discussion quite a bit and so has inequality. But what I'm curious about is- one thing is that, on the SDG2 page, it talks about inequality as being a problem, but it doesn't talk about poverty as being a problem related to hunger, which I find quite strange. But... and this kind of gets me back to the whole issue of why if we are producing enough food, what is the actual mechanism by which food is not reaching the people it needs to reach? Is it - and I think it's too general to say it's poverty or it's inequality - but can you talk- could you have an understanding of what that mechanism is and why it's not getting to the people it needs to get to?

Simon:

It's like a barrier of some sort?

Prabhakar:

I think it's purely in terms of market prices. So your market prices are higher than your affordability of the food and the poor. They don't have the sufficient income to pay for daily food consumption. So how to keep the food prices low is one of the challenges. And if you look at the discussion in this particular area and people say that, okay, don't subsidise the food, let the market forces play out so that, you know, you reach an equilibrium price where in your supply and demand - they determine your food prices.

Simon:

Right.

Prabhakar:

And then, you know, government can, you know, chip in and then provide the food that is necessary for the poor, which anyway, the government is already doing. You know, the government is already providing lots of subsidised food, or even free food to the poor through public distribution systems or fair priced shops as in the case of India. So there are, I think, there are some quantitative studies to make that point. I think the governments are not very, I think, convinced by that idea because, you know, obviously your desk studies may not always roll out to be what the market forces [do] because markets are not always- they don't behave the way that we expect them. There are a lot of inequalities in the market itself. So I think for the governments, it's about the implementability of policies rather than ideal-ness of the policy. So in terms of the implementability, it is easy for them to target certain points of food production and then, you know, provide subsidies there and then pick up the food from the market at a lower price and give it to the, you know, the poor.

André:

Okay.

Prabhakar:

That way they are pleasing a lot of their electorate. They are pleasing the farmers because they are subsidising the inputs and they are pleasing the poor because they are subsidising the selling price of the food to them or even providing free food.

André:

Okay, so that all makes sense. But I'm still perplexed because what you're saying essentially is that poverty is the reason and nothing that you've said indicates that there's anything else other than poverty. So if everyone had enough money to buy food, will that solve the problem entirely? Is it purely a poverty issue or is there more than that?

Prabhakar:

I mean, simply- I don't have a very deep understanding on that, but on a simplistic sense, on a surface, to me, it appears that it is the affordability to buy your food. That is food security. Food security is not just about the quantity, but also the access. And the access is always about the market access. It is about your ability and willingness to pay for the goods and services in the market, and that is always by money. So for example, as I said earlier, Japan doesn't produce all of its food, but still it is being ranked as one of the food-secure countries [compared to] many countries which are producing more food than they need. So it means that it is the ability of the Japanese consumer to buy the food that is coming from thousands of kilometres, far away from its boundaries. So I would apply the same logic even within the boundaries. Of course, I think it's all- in most of the cases, it's about the economic access to food.

André:

Mm hmm. Right, that seems to be the case. That's just why I was confused by why they were emphasizing inequality and not poverty. I just thought that perhaps that's just a misnomer on the part of the SDG. And this is just one SDG website, so it might not necessarily be in the targets. I don't know them well enough to know about that. I don't know if any of you guys have studied the terminology that they use in the targets.

Prabhakar:

Yeah. So because we have thrown the light on inequality, I would also say that the SDG on Hunger also talks about sustainable agriculture production. It also talks about... Let me go to....

Simon:

Smallholder farmers, smallholder indigenous people, so many farmers, pastoralists and fishers and so on. So there is a social aspect to it. It's not just about market access.

Prabhakar:

So the smallholder farmers we are talking about, because in Asia, majority of the food is produced by smallholder farmers and what is happening is now food is increasingly getting industrialised. A lot of large players are coming into food production and the ability to access the food markets is not the same for the big industries [as for] the small farmers. So because we need to provide a level playing field and because of the significance of smallholder farmers, we want to provide a level playing field even for the smallholder farmers so that they can access the markets. They can- they can sell their produce at the same ease as the bigger players [are able] to sell. So that's the reason I think, you know, and [SDG on] hunger recognises that fact probably, and that's why they specify that we need to make sure that the smallholder farmers are recognised and protected.

Simon:

Yeah, you could then also say, I mean, counter to the smallholder farmers, as you indicate, is that I think there's also a trend of concentration of wealth or concentration of land by conglomerates or international farming companies that have their roots in areas way outside of farming. And those are, of course, due to economies of scale. I think they are able to compete much, much better than smallholder farmers. And in reaction to that, at least some of the people that I'm working with from civil society in the region, they are advocating what they call "food sovereignty" - bring back the sovereignty around food production but also seeds back to back to the farmers. I think that's a- that's an issue maybe also relevant to the inequality question.

Prabhakar:

Yeah, I agree with that. And the land grabbing by corporations is a major issue in the developing world because to a large extent, land tenure rights is a major issue as well, as well as the poor seems to such an extent- You know, farming is no more a profitable, you know, operation, then farmers may want to move away. So that's the reason why you see that. You know, there are- this is like a very conflicting issue. There are farmers who are fed up with agriculture and they want to move away by selling their land. But the proportion may be very [low]. But there are farmers who are, you know - for ages, they have been farming and they don't know anything else other than farming. They can't part [from] farming and there can't be any other livelihood for them. And for them, protecting their land and their rights is an important issue in the developing world. So I think this is one of the reasons why, largely because of the misunderstanding of the farm bill introduced by the Government of India recently, because the farmers thought that, you know, it will increase the corporations' role in the agricultural sector and they [were], you know, agitated against it. Of course, a lot of their fears were misplaced. But of course, that's the reason why, you know, even when governments want to bring good policies, such fears of corporate domination are stopping farmers from accepting such good policies. So there's a lot of need to educate the farmers on the real situation and also to safeguard their rights. So that's very important.

Simon:

Mm hmm. Okay. Um, so I feel that we until now, I mean, this has been such a rich exchange, and I really appreciate that. But I feel that until now, we have viewed - as it probably is to a large extent - the challenge of food security and eliminating hunger very much as a problem of poverty. That means the people that are poor, um, they just need some more development and then it'll sort itself out, I mean, to put it very simplistically. But I just want to provoke a little bit to say, "but what about the other side of the coin ?" I mean, aren't there issues related to food security, maybe not so much food security, but quality of nutrition also in what we call the developed world and issues that should be addressed under such an SDG as well, isn't there ? Aren't there?

Prabhakar:

Of course, before I come to your point of, you know, full nutrition, nutrition is a very important part of the food security. I would like to say a couple of things about, you know, women's role in food and hunger. If you look at agriculture, nearly, I think, 60% of the human labour in total, both men and women - 60% comes from women. But the majority of agriculture decisions made by, you know- are made by men in agriculture decisions. Of course, this may vary socially in certain pockets of countries, depending on the local social context. However, largely this is the case, and hence I think the SDG on hunger also recognises the, you know, women's role and safeguarding their, you know, property rights and access to the land and access to agricultural inputs and banks and, you know, credits and things like that so that their role can be increased because there are studies that says that if you can increase the the role of women decision making in agriculture - I think I'm not sure if my number is right - I think it can increase food access by 10-20% or something like that. So it can have a very huge impact on the food security of millions of people. So that's the point about the role of women and recognition of that. So-

Simon:

That is captured.

André:

That also-

Simon:

Sorry, that is also captured by SDG 2.2 and 2.3, the role of women. Just to point that out.

Prabhakar:

Yes.

Simon:

Sorry, André?

André:

Yeah, I was going to say that that covers the inequality question in an interesting way as well, because when I was talking about inequality just now, I was thinking between countries rather, but it's also shifting genders in countries. Yeah, yeah.

Prabhakar:

So coming to the [issue of] malnutrition, I think the major part of the SDG talks about vulnerable sections of people. It talks about below five years of age children, lactating women, and also pregnant women. And there are a lot of statistics which are alarming and says that we have a long way to go in achieving that. Malnutrition. But, you know, if you say that malnutrition is- in your question, you seem to imply that, you know, you said developed country problem, because probably you are coming from the point of view of obesity in children. But on the other side of that, you see that know stunted growth and other, you know, other side of the malnutrition implications in the developing part of the world as well. So how to make access to food to the children? Nutritious food is a major problem. And I can talk from the point of countries like India where much of my knowledge exists and you will be surprised. A major part of the food security initiatives in India are targeted at schoolchildren, for example, we have a school mid-day meals program where all the children are provided nutritious food at the school every day throughout the year. So that actually is targeting children. And also we have what is called "anganwadi workers" and "anganwadi centres" that reach out to rural poor women, children as well as lactating and pregnant women and try to address their nutrition problems. And the government of India has also introduced, for example, you know, paying certain cash benefits to the women. If you are lactating or carrying, for example, you are eligible to receive, for example, 6000 rupees that you can use either to increase your nutrition. Or if you are working, but you cannot work any more, then you can also compensate your income from that. So a range of policy initiatives is possible. But again, you know, these initiatives are very much dependent upon the economic status of the country. And this is where your inequality picture comes in. You know, how do we address inequality? You know, the major question of developmental arena is, how do we address inequality? Then you say, "okay, tax the rich and pay the poor". That's the major approach until today. And that is a criticism, as well as there are praises on both sides of the coin. But if you see on the positive side, I think the people like these vulnerable people, the vulnerable women and children, they are directly getting benefited from such tax collections.

Simon:

The whole picture should be, ought to be or can be illuminated under the question around food security and eliminating hunger, basically saying that, you know, comparing school meals in India with school meals in the UK on the US, you might find that some of the school meals that you just gave an example of, they might be of better quality and might be more nutritious, might be less junk food than we see in other so-called developed parts of the world. So that's just what I wanted to throw out there, you know.

Prabhakar:

I, I agree. Yeah. So I am actually exposed to some of the information on how school meals is designed in parts of the developed world and how unhealthy these [are]. I think the situation is changing. I think for example in the US with the Obama administration, a lot of efforts have gone in on how to increase the nutrient diversification in school meals. I think there is a lot of ground to cover, but we are not making beginnings now. The beginnings have already been made, I think, so we only have more ground to cover.

Simon:

Thank you so much, Prabhakar. And thank you, everyone.

Bob:

Thank you for listening to About Sustainability.. . Please subscribe at podcast.iges.jp or search for About Sustainability... wherever you normally get your podcasts. If you've got feedback, you can review us on your podcast directory of Choice or reach out on Twitter @IGES_EN. About Sustainability... Is produced by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies. Any views expressed during the podcast are those of the speaker at the time of recording and do not necessarily reflect the views of IGES. Thank you for choosing to spend your time with us. We don't take that lightly, and we hope you'll join us next time.