M S Swaminathan on malnutrition and food security

Aparna Singh

Chennai: Despite the popular belief that green revolution led to over use of resources such as water, soil etc. it was the self-sustainable model which the country seemed to seek at that moment of time, said Dr. M S Swaminathan, addressing audience in a conference organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII on nutrition and food security on 17th March, 2015.

Dr. M S Swaminathan discussed three forms of hunger that are calorie, protein and micronutrients deficiency related. He explained that under nourishment affects cognitive ability of a child and if a child is born handicapped or sub normal, it is owing to the fact that mother is malnourished. “The ratio of such children is 22 percent all over India and the situation in Tamil Nadu is little better with 17 percent,” he said.

Further in the conference, it was also explained that how in the year 1960, a new step was undertaken to eradicate malnutrition by introducing new plant architecture. Plants were designed genetically to give high yield. This created a symphony of food products such as basmati rice which is still being developed and its newest form is Pusa basmati 1509. This quality of rice gave a profit of 35 million to farmers of Punjab last year.  But the government needs to avail more funds for such scientific discoveries.

He emphasized on the need of time to educate nutrition values to women about naturally bio fortified plants such as millets, sweet potato etc. The addition of millet in some states in the Public Distribution system has widened the food basket along with wheat and rice. Thus the consumption of millets has increased and it could play a huge role in tackling malnutrition.

Finally, he ended his discourse by the statement that the state needs to design sustainable development for 1000 days’ programme where nutrition for a child for thousand days since conception is stressed upon. Any compromise can lead to irreversible damage to child’s mental and physical development. Food nutrition is often been related to adequacy of food but nutrition has a wider connotation which means balanced diet including micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals and so on.

The conference was an attempt to bridge the dichotomy between millions of hungry people and the tons of food which is produced every year; and how wastage of resources due to poor planning and allocation has led to continuous malnourishment.

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