Quite distressing that malnutrition persists despite efforts: Venkaiah

By NT Bureau Published on Jul 29, 2018 04:50 PM IST

Chennai: "It is quite distressing that in spite of the efforts taken by successive governments at the Centre and in various States, the problem of malnutrition persists in India at unacceptable levels," said Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu.

Speaking at the inauguration of National Consultation on Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition at M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) here today, he said, some of the major contributory factors of malnutrition are the quantitative and qualitative deficits in food intake, environmental conditions and access to health.

The Vice President said it is high time that we diversify our food production by moving away from mono cropping of major cereals to a system that integrates a variety of food items including small millets, pulses, fruits and vegetables. Pulses cultivation will not only help in improving nutrient rich food production but also in restoring nutrient value to the soil, he said.

Millets like Jowar, Bajra, Ragi and little millets like Kutki, Kodo, Sawa, Kangni and Cheena are known to be nutrient-rich. Since cultivation of millets require less water, efforts must be taken to promote their cultivation as part of crop rotation, Venkaiah said.

 Stressing on in-house cultivation of food, the Vice President said, "We need to create food security that is more based on home grown food rather than importing food items. On the economic side, it will reduce our import burden as nearly six million tonnes of pulses are being imported into the country."

Venkaiah reminded that apart from encouraging nutritionally-rich crops, there is a need to create a market for such items.

"Promoting or supplying them through Public Distribution System (PDS) can be a good option," he stated.

Tamilnadu Minister for Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, R Doraikkannu, said about 28.8 lakh metric tonnes of pulses were cultivated in Tamilnadu during 2017-18.

"Currently pulses cultivation has witnessed an increase of about 1.15 lakh metric tonnes, while the area of cultivation also increased about 1.9 lakh hectares of land. An amount of Rs 4.5 crore was sanctioned for enhancing pulses cultivation," he said adding that Rs 5.77 crore has been allotted under National Food Security Scheme to increase millet cultivation in the State.

MSSRF founder chairman M S Swaminathan, executive director V Selvam and director (food security) R Rukmani were present.