October 02, 2019: A unique series of initiatives to build a Nutrition-Secure Puducherry were launched by the Chief Minister Mr V Narayanasamy at the Pillayarkuppam village, in Puducherry today. Amidst a gathering of over 300 women from various collectives, at the ‘Biovillage’ of the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), the chief minister said this was yet another step forward in ensuring better nutrition for the people of the state, to commemorate 150th Gandhi Jayanti. “We have special schemes for children in the fields of agriculture and dairy. However, nutrition security needs many other dimensions, though Puducherry is a frontrunner in nutrition more importance should be given to make the state ‘Nutrition Secure’. We are happy that scientific research organizations like the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation are working to support this cause.”
Speaking on the occasion through a video message from Chennai, Prof M S Swaminathan emphasized on the 5 aspects of nutrition that were required “We have to address calorie deficiency, protein malnutrition, micronutrient deficiency, water and sanitation and focus on nutrition awareness. A combination of all these can show a path to ‘nutrition security’. It is a fitting tribute to the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi,” he said.
Dr Anil Kumar, Executive Director MSSRF explained the importance of scientific approaches in development. “The Biovillage, in fact, signifies life in a holistic manner. Science plays a part in providing solutions of how we can carry on agriculture and related activities to achieve better quality of nutrition and life while safeguarding the environment that we are in.”
Ms Kathanayagi of the Innuyir Grama Sangam (IGS), spoke of how the lives of over 3,500 members of the federation had undergone a major change. “Collectively IGS had transactions of over INR 12 crore last year through financial linkages including savings, credit and insurance. We not only found economic empowerment, we are confident of taking on more responsibility including being part of the political process.”
A garden of ‘nutrition-rich plants’ – developed thematically for different micronutrients – was inaugurated by the chief minister on the occasion. Stalls of farming and fishing communities displayed their products focusing on the theme of nutrition.
While nutrition indicators in Puducherry are better than other states, Dr R V Bhavani, Director Agriculture, Health and Nutrition pointed out the high obesity in adults at (women 36.7%, men 37.1) were concerns. Anaemia in young children and women were also concerns. Dr G N Hariharan explained the 5-path initiative in greater detail, the relevance of the garden of nutri-rich plants and how the concept of Nutrition Secure Puducherry would be taken forward. Dr. B. Ramakichenin @ Balagandhi, the Director of Department of Agriculture and Animal welfare, Govt. of Puducherry, spoke about states initiative on organic farming, recognizing women livestock breeders as farmers, doubling the income of farm families, and support to FPOs.
Subject matter specialist in plant protection, Dr. N. Vijiyakumar from Perunthalaivar Kamarajar Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Puducherry, spoke about how the training of farmers helped to reduce the pesticide use and efforts taken on optimising the use of chemical fertilizers to improve the soil fertility, change in the cropping systems to low water requiring such as millets, pulses, and vegetables and flowers.
A number of women’s groups members, farming communities, government department officials and scientists from the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, attended the event.