Webinar III of the Future Earth South Asia webinar series brought forth perspectives on nutrition and food security from six South Asian countries including Bhutan, India, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Experts from all these countries deliberated upon the challenges and solutions in overcoming malnutrition issues. In the panel discussion, we learned about tackling Malnutrition in South Asia and about how food-policy interventions can be reshaped to empower disadvantaged groups and make our food systems more resilient in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic

Challenges plaguing food systems in South Asian countries and the solutions were discussed. The speaker’s insights and knowledge during the session helped us understand how countries in the South Asian region can come together to ensure food security and adequate nutrition for their people. Following are the major highlights:

  • Food systems at present face the problem of the triple burden of malnourishment and are responsible for transgressing various planetary boundaries.
  • The pathways towards building sustainable and inclusive food systems include improving agricultural infrastructure, strengthening postharvest and food value chain activities, capacity building,  inclusive policy interventions, and regionalizing food systems. We need to follow a bottom-up approach.
  • Policy frameworks across countries in South Asia need to become more nutrition-focused, and gender-sensitive. Policymakers need to  accelerate food-system wide efforts to make healthier and sustainable diets more accessible.
  • Climate change has a disproportionate impact on the Small Island States and their food security. Measures such as daily early warning systems, crop modeling, crop and livestock insurance schemes, etc., are needed to reduce their vulnerability to Climate Change. Going forward, the focus should be on demand-side management, expanding the ocean economy, and innovation. 
  • The shift to healthier, more nutritious diets will require a change in production patterns and the food environment as well. It also requires agriculture, trade, and consumer awareness policies that can address the accessibility, acceptability, and affordability of healthier dietary options. Shifting cropping to coarse cereals & pulses will also make food systems healthier & sustainable.
  • Intra-familial dynamics have an impact on the consumption/dietary patterns of the family members. Awareness among women and mothers will help in bringing about required dietary changes on a familial and societal level.