Chennai, July 29 (IANS) Decrying persisting malnutrition in the country at “unacceptable levels”, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday called for making agriculture nutrition-sensitive to address the problem.
There is no improvement despite the efforts taken by successive governments at Centre and in various states, which is “quite distressing”, he said while addressing the National Consultation on Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition organised by MS Swaminathan Research Foundation.
“A considerable section of the population in our country suffers from malnutrition consisting of under-nutrition, hidden hunger caused by micronutrient deficiencies and obesity…We must make agriculture nutrition-sensitive and it is critical that we explicitly make this vital connection between agriculture and nutrition,” he said, as per a release.
His remarks came against the backdrop of three sisters that were found to have starved to death in east Delhi and doctors held severe malnutrition as the main cause for their deaths.
India stood a poor 100th among 119 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) that was released in October last year.
Naidu further said the central government has adopted The National Nutrition Strategy, which recognises the imperative need to have a relook at the agriculture policy.
He said Indian agriculture must diversify 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.
“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 requires less water, efforts must be to promote their cultivation as part of crop rotation,” he said.
Naidu said that government, civil society, scientists and researchers must share knowledge and expertise with farmers to make agriculture sustainable and nutrition-rich.