Linkages Between Agriculture And Nutrition Critical, Say Experts

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Linkages Between Agriculture And Nutrition Critical, Say Experts

Fortification of staples like rice and wheat with iron, zinc and vitamins, re-introducing the protein and mineral -rich millets into the food basket in a big way, the importance of animal products like milk, meat, eggs and fish in daily diet, focusing on behavior change among communities and improving last mile delivery — were among subjects discussed threadbare at a day-long conference on Agri-Nutrition to take forward the government’s flagship Poshan Abhiyaan.

According to Dr Rajesh Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development and Mission Director Poshan Abhiyaan, many positive changes were happening on the ground with regard to fighting malnutrition, in tandem with NGOs and philanthropic organisations, but they were in happening in pockets, and this needed to be leveraged in order to touch every nook and corner.

All the research presented and studies made during the day-long session would be presented before the Executive Council of the Poshan Abhiyaan as a policy document that would propel the movement for the next decade or so, he said.

Senior officials from various ministries linked to the Poshan Abhiyaan and partner organisations gave their suggestions on how to make the food platter diverse and attractive, and rich in micro nutrients. How to reach the most deprived sections in the country, and how to ensure that the farmers, who comprise over 60 percent of the populace, are also benefitted through bio-fortified food and the promotion of horticulture and kitchen gardens to ensure that families get proper nutrition.

Rakesh Srivastava, Secretary, WCD Ministry, said the POSHAN (PM’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment) Abhiyaan or National Nutrition Mission was converging with 13 ministries and a need had been envisaged for a more structured and closer linkage with the Agriculture Ministry in order to tackle malnutrition, and its related outcomes like stunting, wasting, low birth-weight, under-nutrition, anaemia in children and lactating mothers, pregnant women and adolescent girls.

Among the two most important aspects of the Poshan Abhiyaan are Jan Andolan or mass movement and convergences among the various ministries and departments, and also with the various state governments, and districts and panchayats, in order to achieve the targets.

“Agri-Nutrition share a very important link. It is needed to further strengthen this link, in order to tackle malnutrition,” he said.

He said that orders for fortification of wheat flour, salt and oil were issued in July 2017 and that for rice fortification has recently been issued. Srivastava said a strategy was needed to link the fortified food with the PDS system so that the food reaches the people. 

Dr Vinod Kumar Paul, Member Niti Aayog, said how to align agricultural practices with holistic nutrition of the people was a subject that needed to be deliberated upon. “We have to think of medium, long-term innovative strategy, encompassing agriculture, towards holistic, complete, balanced, futuristic nutrition,” he added.

Basanta Kumar Kar, country director Project Concern International/India, who spoke on the Impact of Dietary Diversification, said a balanced diet is needed for proper growth of children. “Over 90 percent of children don’t get adequate diet, especially those in the 6-23 months age, who thereby miss the opportunity of proper growth. This is a critical area. We won’t achieve the Poshan Abhiyaan goals unless we act on this,” he said.

Panel discussions were held on the topics Global and In-Country Exemplary Practice: Key Learning, and Agri-Nutrition Pathways to Increase Production, Empower Women and Enhance Income.

The papers included Bio-Fortification, Role of Self Help Groups in Integration of Agri-Nutrition Strategies, Role of Livestock, Dairying, Fisheries towards Nutrition, Role of Horticulture towards Nutrition.

Poshan Abhiyaan, which was launched by the Prime Minister in Jhunjhunu on March 8, 2018 has been set up with a three year budget of Rs.9,046.17 crore, commencing from 2017-18.  All States and Union Territories are being targeted in a phased manner.

Under the mission, the government has fixed targets to reduce stunting, anaemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and low birth weight by 2 per cent, 2 per cent, 3 per cent and 2 per cent per annum, respectively.

To ensure a holistic approach, all 36 States/UTs and districts are being covered in a phased manner i.e., 315 districts in 2017-18, 235 districts in 2018- 19 and the remaining districts in 2019-20. More than 10 crore people will be benefitted by this programme.

Original post on Outlook India

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Posted on

March 15, 2019

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