Worrying picture emerges about India’s SDG indicators on food and agriculture

Cultivable land in India, which is home to 18 per cent of the world’s population, is vulnerable to drought, floods and degradation

By Meenakshi Sushma
Published: Tuesday 07 May 2019
Harrowing land with a tractor. Photo: Getty Images
Harrowing land with a tractor. Photo: Getty Images Harrowing land with a tractor. Photo: Getty Images

India's food and agriculture indicators related to the United Nations (UN)-mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have presented a worrying picture.

Two-thirds of India’s cultivable land is vulnerable to droughts, more than a quarter of the country's arable land has been degraded, and 12 per cent of the land area is prone to river basin floods, said NITI Aayog advisor Sanyukta Samaddar at a workshop hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in New Delhi.

With India being home to 18 per cent of the world’s population and having 2.3 per cent of the world’s land area, all this is exerting tremendous pressure on the land,  added Samaddar

India, along with 192 other countries, had committed to the SDG goals in September 2015. “Since then, we have been working towards meeting the goals and have identified indicators, which are calculated to find the current status of the SDG goals,” Samaddar added.

Currently, there are 232 indicators for 17 SDG goals and nine indicators have been identified for zero hunger. Out of the 232, the FAO has come out with 21 “Custodian Indicators” to meet the SDGs.

India presented its first Voluntary National Review (VNR) Report during the High-Level Political Forum HLPF in 2017. This report is one of the UN’s processes to evaluate the status of a country’s adoption strategies to meet the SDG goals. India has committed to present its second VNR in 2020, Samaddar said.

Photo: Meenakshi Sushma“We have to look at the indicators in order to present and send the VNR report. Experts from India have discussed the process of finalising the indicators and broadly, we have two frameworks to come up with the indicators, which include Global Indicator Framework (GIF) and National Indicator Framework. The state produces the data for each indicator. Later, the same is compared with GIF,” she added.

NITI Aayog has come up with a dashboard on their website which has India’s performance on SDG goals. “The Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) is also planning to release a data booklet in June on the current status of India’s SDGs,” said Shailja Sharma, additional director general, MoSPI.

The focus of the five-day workshop is to bring all stakeholders together, including MoSPI, other ministries/departments and the FAO, to discuss the challenges involved in national and global monitoring of the SDGs, with a particular focus on SDG2 (zero hunger). May 6, 2019, was the first day of the workshop.

The workshop will end on May 10, 2019. 

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