Malnutrition still being the biggest malady of Odisha, the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) has come up with an innovative project to counter it.
The Foundation will implement ‘Malnutrition Free Odisha Programme’ by April, the key component of which will be bio-fortification of farm lands, Prof MS Swaminathan, MP and Chairman Emeritus of MSSRF said here on Wednesday.
The crops produced through biofortification method are always rich in nutrients like iron, zinc and Vitamin A, he said.
Swaminathan met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who assured State Government’s support to the initiative.
“Odisha is facing hidden hunger - a result of deficiency of micronutrients in the diet and essential amino acids like lysine in protein,” Swaminathan, who heads the panel of experts on Food and Nutrition Security told TNIE. He was here to speak at the Dr Kishen Kanungo Memorial Lecture at the OUAT on Wednesday.
The Malnutrition Free Odisha Programme will be carried out under three components - largescale production of cereals, bio-fortification of farms and human resource development.
“Climate smart nutri-cereals will be produced on a largescale throughout the State and funds for the purpose will be provided by OCP Foundation of Morcco which is the largest producer of potassium fertiliser. These include the bajra, ragi, millets, jawar and a variety of local grains. Then we will work on biofortification of farm lands. Every farm will be biofortified as per the nutritional requirements of the region. This will include cultivation of hortrculture crops like Vitamin-A rich sweet potato, iron-rich drumstick, protein-high maize, iron-rich beans,” he said.
Terming this as ‘horticultural remedy for nutritional malady’, Swaminathan said the Foundation’s researchers will carry out a nutritional survey of the areas and identify the major causes of chronic and hidden hunger, and redesign the farming system so that specific agricultural remedies are introduced for each nutritional malady. A similar project is being implemented by the Foundation in Chennai.
Under the third component of the Programme, the Foundation will train a woman and a man in every village in nutrition literacy to serve as ‘Community Hunger Fighters’. The Foundation scientists are already training villagers as ‘Community Hunger Fighters’ in Koraput.
MSSRF has been working to promote farming systems for nutrition-rich food crops and livestock and preserve and popularise local and traditional varieties of cereals and millets cultivated by tribal people in Koraput.