CHENNAI: The residents of Chennai will soon get to learn more about traditional food recipes, their nutritional values, and how to grow them on their terrace, with the establishment of a 'nutrition garden' by MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) here.
The nutrition garden will come up on half-an-acre given by the corporation to the foundation opposite south Chennai's Tidel Park. It was envisaged under the corporation's smart-city project.
Scientists, who are part of the initiative, said the garden would cost around Rs 6 lakh and the construction is likely to begin after the monsoon, with the opening slated for 2022. Dr N Parasuraman, Principal Scientist, MSSRF, told TNIE," The idea of this nutrition garden is to improve food security among the urban areas as India fares poorly in the Global Hunger Index. The nutrition garden will spread awareness among the public on the nutrition in food and how they can improve it at their houses."
The MSSRF, in association with the Rotary Club, aims to conduct outreach programmes to bring mothers, other women, and teachers into the garden. "We will offer them nutrition literacy and increase their awareness on foods containing vitamin D and B," Dr Parasuraman said.
This nutrition garden would be a valuation addition to the existing schemes such as the Amma Unavagams and Kovil Anna Dhana Thittam (free food in temples) in eliminating hunger, he added. The nutrition garden is expected to have a variety of vegetables, fruits, and roots, apart from a knowledge park on supplements.
Such initiatives gain significance as the country recently slipped in the Global Hunger Index rankings from 94th position in 2020 to 101st in 2021. The country is now behind Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh in food security.
Chennai Corporation Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi told TNIE, "The idea is to have a public space that will also have educational value for the citizens. Terrace farming is big in Chennai among the middle-class.
People can learn about the nutritional and medicinal value of seeds, fruits, shoots, tubers, leaves, and other parts of various plants, how to grow them, and tasty traditional recipes for making them as part of their diet."
He said what people learn from Nutri-garden can be applied to their terrace gardens and kitchens for a healthier diet and lifestyle.
"Awareness about some of the nutritious plant products may even ultimately generate more demand for such products, thus encouraging farmers to produce them in their farms," he added.