India is the second most populous country in the world with an estimated 1.2 billion people and the third-largest economy by GDP. Despite steady economic growth and self-sufficiency in food grains production, high levels of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition persist in India.

What are the current issues in India?

  • Poverty and malnutrition

    An estimated 21.25 percent of the Indian population live on less than US$1.90 per day. The country is home to one-quarter of all undernourished people worldwide. Any global impact on hunger requires progress in food and nutrition security in India.

    India ranks 130th out of 188 countries in the 2015 UNDP Human Development Index and 80 out of 104 countries in the Global Hunger Index. While per capita income in India has more than tripled in the last two decades, the minimum dietary intake fell during the same period. Levels of inequality and social exclusion are very high. The bottom 10 percent of the population accounts for only 3.6 percent of the total consumption expenditure and the top 10 percent accounts for 31 percent - the gap between rich and poor has increased during the period of high economic growth.

What is the World Food Programme doing in India?

WFP, present in India since 1963, has seen its work evolve with the country’s economic growth and changing needs. Self-sufficiency in cereal production and Government safety nets to provide food security has allowed WFP to transition from food distribution to providing technical assistance. Food delivery was phased out in 2012 and under a new Country Strategic Plan 2015-18, WFP is supporting the Government in strengthening the efficiency and effectiveness of its food-based safety nets under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). This includes the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS); the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) targeting mothers and young children; and the Mid-Day-Meal (MDM) school feeding programme. WFP is also committed to enhancing the capacity of Government on food security analysis and benchmarking of NFSA schemes for effective results.

  • Transforming the Targeted Public Distribution System

    India’s subsidized food distribution system, the TPDS, reaches about 800 million poor people across India monthly with supplies of wheat, rice, sugar and kerosene oil. One of the world’s largest food distribution systems, TPDS has a long and complex supply chain including procurement, transportation, storage and distribution through 500,000 Fair Price Shops across the country./p>

    WFP India works to improve the efficiency, accountability and transparency of TPDS to ensure it reaches those who need it most. WFP supports the Government with reforms aimed at improving targeting of beneficiaries and supports better alignment with Fair Price Shop operations. In consultation with the Government, national and international experts, WFP led development of a design and implementation plan to strengthen TPDS at the State level.

  • Fortification of food distributed under government safety nets

    WFP is fortifying foods served to school children via the national Midday Meal (MDM) school feeding programme. In a pilot project, rice fortified with iron was used in school meals in the Gajapati district of Odisha State. The rate of anemia dropped by about 20 percentage points of which six percentage points were attributable to the fortified rice in the meals. WFP is also pioneering multi micronutrient fortification of school meals which can be scaled up by the government depending on needs.

    WFP is addressing malnutrition within the first 1,000 days of life through fortification of food given to children between 6-36 months in Kerala State.

  • Food Insecurity Mapping and Monitoring

    Through Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM), WFP identifies the most food insecure areas and populations in India as a base for policy-making and programme implementation.

    Numerous earlier studies and successful research projects, conducted in cooperation with Government agencies, identified eight priority States with either high overall prevalence of food insecurity or where WFP has ongoing projects. The findings informed programme design and response in the States of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

    WFP is working in Odisha on institutionalizing food security analysis and vulnerability mapping within the government systems in the context of achieving Zero Hunger and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #2. To this end, WFP is supporting a government technical agency, the Poverty and Human Development Monitoring Agency (PHDMA) under the Department of Planning and Convergence, in establishing a State-level Food Security Analysis Unit (S-FSAU).

    At the national level, WFP is working closely on food security analysis and its institutionalization with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation through establishment of a Central-level Food Security Analysis Unit (C-FSAU).

World Food Programme partners in India

WFP cannot fight global hunger and poverty alone. These are our partners in India:

Want to know more about WFP partners? Visit WFP's Partnerships section.

Featured India publications

  • India: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 394 KB)

    A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.

Looking for more publications on India? Visit the India publications archive.