Reported by Sandeep Pattnaik
Bhubaneswar, Dec 23 :
Government is all set to address the ever-rising malnutrition problems by embarking upon improved agricultural interventions like Nutritional farming and Pulse village programs etc, in the country including Odisha.
This was revealed by eminent scientist Dr MS Swaminathan during a consultation workshop on ‘Farming system for Nutrition’ held in OUAT campus here on Monday.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in collaboration with the UK government is running a consortium research project called ‘Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia’ (LANSA), which has the objective to reduce malnutrition in case of young women and children in South Asia by improving nutritional contents in agri-foods.
State Agriculture minister Devi Prasad Mishra who inaugurated the workshop said, “Undertaking pro-agricultural initiatives pertaining to cereal crops like rice, maize and also for pulses will help getting better crop yields along with rich nutritional content foods. This will address the ever-rising problems of malnutrition in rural areas, mostly among pregnant women and children.”
In Odisha, the project is being implemented in select villages in Boipariguda block of Koraput district.
Integrating nutritious crops—natural and bio-fertifiers, livestock, poultry, fisheries and forestry, with promoting nutrition gardens of vegetables and fruits on homestead land for household consumption are essential components of the project, Professor M S Swaminathan, the father of green revolution said.
In the first year, the focus is primarily on surveys to prepare a baseline and on-farm demonstrations of crops and cultivation practices to understand the nutrition status, deficiencies and requirements as well as the prevailing cropping and farming patterns.
“Based on this, relevant pro-nutrition agriculture interventions will be designed and households will be encouraged to take them up in the second year, which shall include crop and animal husbandry and household nutrition gardens” Professor Swaminathan said.
Besides, programmes will be conducted to understand the importance of eating nutritious food, health and hygiene, care of pregnant women, and infant and child feeding practices, according to the professor.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools will be used to disseminate knowledge and information on agricultural practices from cultivation to harvesting and value addition, nutrition and childcare, and available government schemes for food and nutrition, he added.
“Based on the changing agriculture situation and nutrition status of the people in villages, suitable policy advocacy will be undertaken with the government for addressing the problems of malnutrition through agriculture in many villages across the country,” Shri Swaminathan said.
The World Bank estimates that India is one of the highest ranking countries in the world for the number of malnutrition cases among the pregnant women and children.