Govt mulls promoting nutrient-rich crops' farming to check malnutrition
New Delhi: Aiming to address malnutrition among the people of the country, the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has mulled to promote farming of nutrient-rich crops on large scale.
The Ministry of Agriculture has sought additional support from Finance Ministry for popularising bio-fortified varieties to alleviate malnutrition.
According to senior officials, the ministry has planned to incentivise farming of several bio-fortified varieties of field, vegetables and fruit crops developed by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). The research arm of Agriculture Ministry has initiated bio-fortification in crops as a sustainable and cost-effective solution to alleviate malnutrition for ease of life of common man.
Explaining about the proposal, a senior government official said, "It's a fact that people belonging to economically weaker sections cannot afford to have nutritional food items, so the government has planned to make available nutrient-rich food crops for their consumption at cost-effective rates."
"The ICAR has developed several crops that are rich in nutrient, but their productivity ot show their interest in cultivating any particular crops of that variety.
"As ensuring better production is the prime concern of Agriculture Ministry, the department has planned to promote cultivation of all nutrient-rich crops by 'providing' procurement guarantee, better market, purchase of crops at a better price, etc," the official said.
The varieties developed by ICAR that would be integrated into the food chain to enable better health of our human include high protein and zinc rice, wheat, pearl millet, lentil, multi-nutritional maize, quality oil mustard, vegetables and fruits.
The ministry has sought special grant for nutritional security to facilitate bio-fortified crops to reach the end-user with bonus incentive with the market link for farmers who grow, the official said.
While talking to Millennium Post, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said, "Ensuring productivity is the mandate of Agriculture Ministry and the government is running several
schemes to push productivity of crops."
According to a joint paper published by Assocham and consultancy firm EY, the country is losing about 4 per cent of its GDP due to malnutrition Underlining the data from the National Family Health Survey-4, the report said, "Close to 60 per cent of children in the country aged between 6-59 months are anaemic. Only about 10 per cent of the country's total children is receiving adequate diet."