Maharashtra Governor calls bringing a policy for promotion of Cultivation and Consumption of Nutricereals
The Governor of Maharashtra CH. Vidyasagar Rao has asked ministers for agriculture, women and child welfare, food and civil supplies and tribal affairs to work closely to introduce a policy of procurement and distribution of Nutricereals through public distribution system in Maharashtra.
Such policy, said the Governor, would result in enhancing the income of marginalized farmers and in tackling the issue of malnutrition and other lifestyle diseases, especially in the Scheduled Areas of Maharashtra.
The Governor was speaking at a meeting of Ministers for Agriculture, Women and Child Development, Tribal Development and Food and Civil Supplies at Raj Bhavan, Mumbai on Wednesday (12th June).
The meeting was convened by the Governor to discuss the findings of a report on Nutricereals prepared by the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad under the leadership of the Academic Director of the Bharati Institute of Public Policy Dr Ashwini Chhatre.
The report notes that Maharashtra is a surplus state in terms of production of nutricereals. However the procurement of nutricereals and their distribution through public distribution system would allow reinforcement of traditional dietary patterns and also help in moving towards nutritional security.
The Governor said that such policy should focus on encouraging farmers to produce nutricereals. He asked the concerned department to explore the possibility of developing value-added products from nutricereals and to invest in research and development of such products. He further asked the government to take steps toward enhancing productivity of nutricereals by involving universities, academicians and agro-industries. In this connection, the Governor called for taking up a pilot project in one district of the State having scheduled areas.
Minister for Agriculture Chandrakant Dada Patil, Minister for Women and Child Development Pankaja Munde, Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Jayakumar Rawal and secretaries of the concerned departments were present.
Findings of the Report on Nutricereals
The report on Nutricereals prepared by the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad notes that malnutrition levels of children are 35.7% underweight; 38.4% stunted; and 21% wasted. In Maharashtra 23% of children in 0 to 23 months age group were stunted of which 8% were severely stunted and approximately 23% were underweight of which 7% were severely underweight.About 59% of preschool children, 61% of adolescent girls, 76% of pregnant women and 73% of lactating mothers in Maharashtra State suffer from Anaemia. The percentages of these deficiencies in scheduled areas are higher than for non-scheduled areas. The report further mentions that, mineral content in millets ranges from 1.7 to 4.3 g/100g which is several folds higher than wheat (1.5%) and rice (0.6%). Calcium content of finger millet is about eight times higher than wheat and rice whereas pearl millet is a rich source of iron. Millets are also good sources of beta-carotene and B vitamins especially riboflavin, niacin and folic acid.