18/10/2018
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The Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition launches ‘When Food Becomes Immaterial: Confronting the Digital Age”,  a report exploring the impact of technologies on what and how we eat, as well as on how food is produced. Shalmali Guttal contributes a chapter to this annual report, examining the situation and dynamics of food retail in the world’s second most populous country, especially recent government policies that open up the food retail market to foreign investors.

Excerpt from Shalmali’s chapter:

With growing urbanization, changing lifestyles and digital commerce,  India is a coveted market for corporate food retailers. However, most urban consumers purchase food from local, family run stores, fresh markets and vendors with pushcarts. Poorer families depend on subsidized staples from the Public Distribution System. In rural areas, daily food needs are met through own production, foraging and small-scale trading. The importance of such retail can be understood through the concept of “territorial markets”, through which the majority of the food consumed in the world is channeled.

Despite being one of the world’s largest food producers, India is home to the largest undernourished population in the world. Hunger is most prevalent in areas where people depend on subsistence agriculture and foraging, among urban poor, and in conflict zones. Girls and women bear the brunt of hunger and hardship because of deeply entrenched social-cultural discrimination and policies that tend to be gender biased.  In poor families, women often eat last and least.

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The link to the overview of the entire publication can be accessed here, and the full PDF version is available here, with a supplement downloadable here. Please note that these links opens to an external site.