18 March 2013 | EN
India pins hopes on biofortified crops to tackle malnutrition
Proposals for the annual budget that comes into effect next month (1 April) carry a US$ 40 million allocation for pilot projects to develop such crops as iron-rich pearl millet (locally called bajra), protein-rich maize and zinc-rich wheat.
The Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), an autonomous organisation under the agriculture ministry, is already working on nutrient-rich crops, a conference on biofortification, held last month (27 February) in New Delhi, heard.
"ICAR is working on a platform for promoting nutrient-rich crops that will involve a network of researchers, social scientists and advocacy workers in this field," Swapan Kumar Dutta, director-general of ICAR, told the conference.
Dutta said India’s traditional food crops contained a variety of nutrients, but changing food habits in recent years has resulted in over-dependence on cereals that are low in micronutrients like zinc and iron.
Howarth Bouis, director of HarvestPlus, said enhancing micro-nutrients in cereal staples is easier than changing the food habits of the population.
In 2012 HarvestPlus introduced its first micronutrient-rich crop — an improved version of a popular open-pollinated pearl millet variety containing more iron — by distributing it to 100,000 farming households in Maharashtra state.
Progress in developing zinc-rich rice and wheat has been slower and farmers are resistant to new varieties. “We will involve all stakeholders to develop an understanding of the hurdles in promoting new crops in the country,” Dutta told SciDev.Net.
"India has many traditional crops which are rich in nutrients, but are underutilised as compared to wheat and rice," Dutta said. "A major part of the work of our platform will be to promote these neglected crops."
vestias ( Portugal )
20 March 2013
A India deve avaçar com projectos para dar respostas as classes mais pobres da India
P D Kumawat ( India )
12 April 2013
It is very good initiative for people suffering from malnutrition.
P D Kumawat, Kodinar,Gujarat, India
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