A Food Supply Catastrophe Awaits a World Unwilling to Act Soon



Megan Durisin | Bloomberg News

Even in India, the country with the world’s largest food-aid system, the pandemic is leaving more people without enough.

Government warehouses brim with more than 70 million tons of grain, and the nation’s wheat and rice harvests have surged to records. The government is required by law to provide as many as 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of rice, wheat and coarse grains at subsidized rates to anyone who needs it.

But there are still tens of millions of people getting locked out of assistance, Bloomberg’s Pratik Parija reports this week from New Delhi.

Bureaucratic difficulties were cited by a government think-tank as the most important reason blocking access to the food program. A bigger hurdle, though, is that it’s woefully underfunded. More than 100 million people are being left out of the current budget, according to Jean Dreze, a visiting professor with Ranchi University in eastern India.

The country’s challenges are coming in a year when The World Food Programme was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and its leader is calling on billionaires and big businesses to boost contributions to tackling famine. Governments typically provide most funding to the United Nations agency, but there are mounting worries that aid will fall short as more focus goes to dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus.

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