Go back to our roots of Indian tradition for health and nutrition

Chennai, May 09, 2019: A seminar on ‘Challenges in food value chain in agri-food processing – solutions through convergence from farm to folk’ was delivered by Dr V Prakash today at MSSRF. Dr Prakash is an Indian structural biologist, and a highly acclaimed Indian food technologist. He is currently the Vice-President of International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) (2017-2021); President of International Society of Nutraceuticals and Nutritionals and Naturals and holds many more important positions.

In his talk Dr Prakash emphasised on the rich tradition of India and the country being No.1 in many food businesses, India is rich in human resources while many countries lack it. The agenda of FARM TO FOLK is a very challenging one and is not going to end with a magic solution as the population grows scaringly to reach ten billion by 2050!  During this period of economic development and shift in consumption pattern of the consumer the convergence of informal to organized Food Processing Sectors is bound to happen. Will it be sustainable with all inclusive marginal farmer is a major issue that needs addressing?

The food losses and waste which was once attributed to low income countries has now shifted to high income countries as per the calculations of carbon foot print of wastage of processed food and cooked food and is hundreds of times more in the high income group countries than low income counter.  Hence for sustainable Future Earth this is an important agenda for minimizing food losses and waste.  Thus the paradigm shift towards the rural, quality, process and policy along with and not just urban, quantity, production and technology is the key for a sustainable agenda in agro processing.  Linking farmers and growers to micro and macro markets is very crucial in the food chain in India focussing on new venture entrepreneurship (Skill based village level MBA’s). Strengthening institutional and marketing mechanism for stronger link to urban markets surpassing multilayer problems in value addition chain for especially for perishables and long term storages of grains is vital, he said.

The agenda of Hunger and undernutrition must engulf all policies for a convergence for focus so that any new of previous Yojana must have a component of attacking hunger and undernutrition as well as sustainable plurality with better health.  The marginal farmers’ profit (not income) must at least be doubled by 2022.  This can happen only if that farmer is in the Value Addition Chain like the dairy Co-operatives.  Dr Prakash said that like the succeeding in milk production through cooperatives system it is also possible to have agriculture product cooperatives so that farmers will be partners in the profit instead of the producers being the losers.

Many a times one is focusing on production only, but the next agenda of affordable processing is not in the picture and needs to be oriented with research institutions and academia and requires massive networking for handholding new and micro entrepreneurships.  Thus, if innovation matters to agri – food – nutrition will matter to us, we shall matter more to it through innovation by networking the networks of traditional wisdom and modern science and converging technologies to meet the demands of our changed lifestyle, is good for self should also be good to environmental Prakriti.  Therefore it is not only CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) but CSR – SEMF (Concerned Social Responsibility with Sustainable Micro entrepreneurships is the key issue that needs to be the prime agenda in the next 1000 days on a fast track for the benefit of marginal farmers and an all inclusive agenda in the chain.

Dr Prakash spoke about the miracle of the brown rice – the unpolished rice being nutritionally rich, and because it is impossible to preserve the brown rice for a longer period in a cost effective manner, one loses the rich nutrition that is gained through the unpolished rice and he suggests consuming rice bran oil as a supplement to brown rice. He said that only if one gets back to the roots of Indian tradition in consumption of food, one can live a healthier life, because nutrition fortification happens in the kitchen, so it’s time to re-educate ourselves for better healthier life.

Edited by: Christy Leema E