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From alarm bells to rest bells: coping with nutritional deficiencies

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India has made progress over the years in addressing its high prevalence of undernutrition. However, malnutrition remains a major concern. According to National Family Health Survey data released this year, most children remain underweight (32%), stunted (36%), “wasted” (19%) and anemic (67%). The Green Revolution, National Food Security Mission (2007), and public distribution system (PDS), ready-to-eat (MDM) and integrated child development program (ICDS) coverage are key to increasing cereal and pulse production has played a role. This allows the government to provide subsidized grain to a large portion of the population, provide free lunches to over 100 million school-going children, and supplement meals for pregnant and nursing mothers. I made it. Public outreach systems have helped support large numbers of vulnerable people. However, nutritional challenges persist.

Decentralized food procurement mechanisms and the use of regional agro-food systems will enhance nutritional security and enable India to move towards sustainable food production, procurement and processing. A panel of experts report on the National Food Security Bill of 2010 already points to the financial benefits of reduced subsidies and the benefits of decentralized procurement of food grains and storage.

A number of policy moves are recent initiatives, such as the Prime Minister’s Inclusive Scheme for Holistic Nutrition (POSHAN) Abhiyan, the use of locally grown nutritious foods, the Farmers Producers Organization (FPO) and Women and the National Nutrition Mission to encourage self-involvement. – Help Group (SHG) in implementing schemes. Prime Minister Kissan Pada Yojana (PMKSY) from 2016 to his 2026 and his PM Formulation of Micro Food Processing Enterprise Scheme (PMFME) from his 2020 to his 2025 will value the development of his chain. and tailoring the infrastructure to the needs of his chain of supplies, from farm gates to retail outlets. These are important.

However, what is needed now is a focus on short supply chains, sustainable public sourcing and redistribution, food processing-led rural life diversification and a network of partners to support diversified diets. It’s a multifaceted approach. His triple partnership of panchayat, private sector and passhalas (schools) is essential to making affordable food widely available. Private sector involvement has the potential to strengthen food supply infrastructure and support micro food processing entrepreneurship in the Indian hinterland by deploying resources from schemes such as PMKSY and PMFME. Under their ‘sustainability pledge’, the company will engage rural FPOs, SHGs and youth to help develop food infrastructure across agro-climate zones, ensure safe storage of food, timely We can provide processing and marketing, manage food waste at every stage, and follow the environment. protective practices. These interventions not only reduce the carbon footprint of the food industry, but also help ensure affordable nutritional choices across income groups throughout all seasons. It improves transportability, extends the shelf life of fresh produce, expands consumer choice and lowers prices. Supportive regulatory and policy frameworks can facilitate all of this.

The partnership with panchayats will see FPO and SHG working hand in hand to cart and process locally fresh produce, manage and maintain secure storage, ensure timely transportation and market competitiveness, and profitably. It helps ensure that it is distributed fairly. His FPO scheme in government could evolve into a move similar to Amul’s.

The effort could coincide with investments under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. Easy loans for rural food entrepreneurs, training in food banking at storage locations, food cooperatives and his FPO, and innovation by digital startups all have the potential to change the agri-food landscape.

Extending the role of panchayat members to ‘nutrition stewards’ will have short-term benefits of more nutritious school feeding programs and long-term benefits of rural enterprise development. It also brings a myriad of co-benefits, such as bridging technology gaps and preserving traditional culinary skills. This will assist in the gradual transition of her PDS from a grain-based ‘food security’ system to a system that provides a healthy food basket for ‘nutrition security’.

Our partnership with Paschala for Nutrition Science and Agriculture helps sensitize young people while driving nutritious production and consumption into a frenzy. Academia can lead the skills and training for this. We must develop youth cadres who can increase nutritional literacy and fill rural skills gaps, and foster entrepreneurs who will transform villages from nutrition deserts into nutrition hubs.

Finally, ranking villages by their nutrient index will help them track progress in areas such as sustainable agriculture, growing nutritious crops, on-farm processing, efficient transport and storage, and nutritious consumption. can be tracked. This will allow panchayat to accelerate the movement towards a resilient food system.

To improve India’s nutrition statistics, prioritize promoting the development of local agriculture and food value chains, properly reconfigure agriculture for nutritional security, and build partnerships involving local stakeholders. A high level of attention should be paid to Collective action is essential to achieving nutritional independence.

S. Vijay Kumar, Distinguished Fellow, TERI contributed to this article.

(Meena Sehgal and Manish Anand are members of the Food and Land Use Coalition and Senior Fellows of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), respectively)


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