CHENNAI:Agriculture must be made nutrition-sensitive, making the vital connection between agriculture and nutrition, said Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu while inaugurating the National Consultation on Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition at the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) on Sunday.
“Our success in food production combined with our policies on public distribution of foodgrains resulted in alleviating the problem of hunger for the marginalised sections in our country. Yet, as the statistics show, our malnutrition status is grave and it is time for us to move towards achieving nutrition security for all,” he said, according to a statement from the MSSRF.
Saying that the country must no longer depend on imported food security but on home-grown food security, Naidu said that there must be diversification of crop production to include millets and pulses.
R Doraikannu, State Agriculture Minister, said people had now understood the value of pulses and millets and as a result, there had been an increased production of these crops in recent years, the statement said.
The MSSRF, which promotes the farming system for nutrition (FSN) in rural India, hosted the consultation in a bid to throw light on the grave levels of malnutrition in the country and present solutions.
MS Swaminathan, founder of MSSRF, said that attention must be paid to protein deficiency and micronutrient deficiency while also addressing water scarcity.Ashok Dalwai, CEO, National Rainfed Area Authority, Ministry of Agriculture, said that policy support was skewed towards cereals such as paddy and wheat but it often came at the cost of pulses and oilseeds.
He said that the integrated farming system of having more than one crop or one agricultural system can work as a risk negotiating tool to ensure that farmers generate enough income.Speaking on the necessity for incentives that drive behaviour change, R Venkataramanan, managing trustee, Tata Trust, said that the trust was open to ideas on minimal changes in cropping patterns that can help in ensuring food security.
R Rukmani, director, food security, MSSRF, RV Bhavani, programme manager, LANSA, MSSRF, R Balakrishnan, Development Commissioner-cum-Additional Chief Secretary, Planning & Convergence Department, Government of Odisha, M Nedunchezhian, Principal Scientist (Agronomy) and head, ICAR-CTCRI, regional centre, Bhubaneshwar and Lakhan Singh, Director, ICAR- Agricultural Technology Application Research Institute, Pune were also present.