In a stark irony, the hungry people in the world have been estimated at 840 million by the Global Hunger Index (GHI) even as the global cereal output is at a near record level of 2,489 million metric tons this year. About 25% of the total hungry people or 21 crore live in India alone i.e. every 4th hungry person in the world is an Indian.
The number of undernourished people is unchanged but their proportion to total population has declined due to growing population. The 2013 GHI is calculated for 120 countries for which data on its three indicators are available and where measuring hunger is considered most relevant. The three indicators are: the proportion of underfed people, the proportion of under-five children who are underweight, and the mortality rate of children younger than five. The report has been brought out by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and NGOs Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide.
India continues to be in the "Alarming" category classified by the severity of hunger. It puts India in the category where the hunger index is between 20-29.9. Others in this group are Ethiopia, Sudan, Congo, Chad, Niger, and other African countries. These countries suffer from wars over resources and extreme poverty, and they make up the bottom-most bunch in the Human Development Index rankings.
Meanwhile, an FAO report has forecast a record cereal harvest for 2013, on the back of a 7% rise in output over 2012. Wheat output is estimated at 70.5 million metric tons (MMT) while coarse grains output is put at 1,288 MMT. And rice output is estimated at 496 MMT - all three being new records. With record output and declining prices globally, why the world's hungry are not getting enough food is a puzzle which keeps baffling policy makers and experts.