#61 — Harsh Realities, Seaweed & A Few Opportunities


“If your household earns more than ₹85k per month, then you are in the top 0.5% of India. That is most of us. Unfortunately, only about 5% of us are aware of this fact.” writes Navin Kabra in his FutureIQ substack from September last year.

The data is terrifying. The inequalities are obscene. The imbalances in India’s cereal economy only look to perpetuate the paradox of “hunger amidst plenty”.

We usually sign-off with a line of optimism, looking at the future and seeing how we can build for better. But as things seem more out of reach than ever, we are doing our best to be informed, read, try and understand and take it all in.

Stay Curious.
Elizabeth & Anusha

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Photo By Randeep Maddoke; CC0,

Field Notes: Dispatches from the farmer protests

The Caravan

It’s been five months, three weeks and nine rounds of talks.

Farmers First

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India’s Food Supply Chain During the Pandemic

Harvard Business School

Policy makers in the developing world face important tradeoffs in reacting to a pandemic. The quick and complete recovery of India’s food supply chain suggests that strict lockdown measures at the onset of pandemics need not cause long-term economic damage.

Back in Action?

Update: Farm Bill & Farmers Protests

The farm bills passed namely Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; the Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 aka raised protests from the opposition and the farming community.

What exactly does the Farm Bill address? Why are farmers protesting laws that politicians claim will liberate them? What are the economic arguments being made? We covered some last month, but this is not a single issue issue.

Here are some more perspectives:

📰The question we need to ask is why does the food that we consume need to be subsidised? Why are farmers, not just the ones camping in the bitter cold at the capital’s borders, but also the voiceless silent majority, demanding price support? Are they unproductive and lazy?
Farmers need support, period | Down to Earth

⚡India cuts Internet near Delhi as hundreds of farmers begin hunger strike
Financial Post

✊Farm Protests in India Are Writing the Green Revolution’s Obituary
Scientific American

👩‍🌾The battle for the future of Indian farming
Slow Food

📜What kind of an agri-food policy does India need?
Indian Express

💰The prescriptions of the Economic Survey to deal with the economic crisis will not help the people of India.
Economic Survey Proves Farmers’ Concerns Are Right | NDTV

🔨Budget, like farm laws, is marred by gap between intentions of government and ground realities of agriculture
Indian Express

👎From rushed ordinances to bills passed without counting votes to legitimising the protests by offering to suspend the laws, Modi’s calculations have all failed.

These resources are not the end all of the information. Watch closely as talks are in progress to stay updated.

⏩(Plant) Forward…

How plant meat is coming of age in India | LiveMint
Life cycle analyses shows a plant-based diet is most nutritious with least environmental impacts | Times of India

or backward?⏪⏪⏪

Brahminical Patriarchy & Carol Adams’ The Sexual Politics Of Meat |
Feminism India

🌊Seaweed Special🌿

Along its 8,000 kilometer coastline, India grows barely a fraction of the world’s more than 30 million tons of seaweed, according to research published in Botanica Marina. With an investment of about ₹640 crore (US$86.8 million), India hopes to increase seaweed production to at least 1 million tons a year by 2025.

India’s Blue Revolution Targets Investments in Seaweed | Food Tank

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On the Shelf

To Expand Access To Nutrition, Consider Frozen Foods

“This is the first time in the Indian domestic market that pre-chopped, ready-to-cook frozen vegetables are being offered as their only precedents have been peas and corn.” 

The Wire (Science)

How Can India Plug the Food Wastage Hole at the Consumer and Retail Level?

For India, at present, there are no formal estimates for the food wasted at the retail and consumer-levels. However, a report of 2018 highlights that the food wasted in India is as much as the total food consumed in the United Kingdom (UK)

 The Wire

Value-first e-grocery segment projected to grow at 53% CAGR in 5 years

“Accounting for almost 2/3rd of the 130 Mn eGrocery addressable households, value-first households account for a large opportunity in the grocery space, but are quite different in the way they go about purchasing groceries. Recently, as a result of COVID, hygiene has become a second consideration driver after affordability for these households — such differentiated purchase behaviour, would require e-grocery platforms to serve this opportunity through specific tailored offerings,”

 India Retailing

Reliance has no plans to shake up farming in India — apart from building a grocery empire

“The kirana network is the largest untapped network and a tough cookie to crack, which demands a lot of patient capital and fast scaling to excite the customers, the stores, and the brands all at the same time. But JioMart is well-positioned to crack the code with all three.” 


🥑Eating Impact

“A convergence among the technology/trading companies and the big retail is taking place — to exert a greater influence in drawing appropriate policies at the national as well as international level to help with consolidation. The policy of ‘get big or get out’ has reframed public policies in agriculture to usher in consolidation across the entire food chain. This is perhaps what the Indian farmers are worried about.”
🥑Devinder Sharma Tribune India

“The indigenous Indian diet understood that food, built into our day-today lives, is one of the most powerful forms of medicine we have. But these systems of belief and practice were disrupted by the force of the market”
🥑Sunita Narain Times of India

Clearly, the consumption patterns have shifted away from low-value food grains or other primary commodities to high-value foods, and increasingly towards food with higher value addition. The share of expenditures spent on unprocessed and primarily high-value produce (eggs, fruits, vegetables) has remained relatively stable over the past 20 years at about 15%, implying that the consumption of these foods has grown in line with the rapidly rising overall expenditures.
🥑Seema Bathla and Siraj Hussain The Wire

🔊EVENT ALERT: Who Feeds Bengaluru? 🌳

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This month we will be discussing Harini Nagendra’s book “Cities and Canopies: Trees in Indian Cities” under the beautiful canopies of Cubbon Park. 
Join Us!


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The Circular Impact Market Accelerator is inviting startups to provides solutions and alternatives, along with channeling plastic waste to recyclable and recoverable means, the programs will seek to eliminate plastic waste from reaching landfills via a serious push towards plastic circularity. APPLY

Food & Communication: Call for Abstracts

Every two years, the Biennial Conference on Food and Communication brings together scholars that work on the intersection of food and communication. Scholars are invited to explore the cultural and discursive construction of food. Know More

Careers at The Goya Journal

Goya is a food media company with a publishing arm that focuses on food and culture. They are looking for a SALES PARTNER to sales partner to grow the media business, and build a strong network with their client base. Know More

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How will India’s peasants and agricultural workers, who make up more than half of the workforce, withstand major disruptions caused by import competition and the attendant uncertainties of the global market?
BISWAJIT DHAR | A POLICY PAPER BY Focus on the Global South

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