Need to fit the pieces together for India’s nutrition – Experts at World Food Day event

Chennai, October 16, 2019: “Those entitled to pensions, can avail of hot cooked meals at anganwadis every day,” said Ms Kavitha Ramu, IAS, Mission Director – ICDS, Govt of Tamil Nadu. Speaking on the occasion of World Food Day at a function organized at the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) here, she said while women and children availed schemes of the ICDS, many were not aware that this was available to those drawing the OAP and widow pensions as well. “People need to be aware and take advantage of schemes to improve their nutrition,” she said.

The World Food Day, celebrated globally on the day the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations was founded, focuses this year on “Healthy Diets for a Zero Hunger World”. In an interactive session with the audience, Ms Kavitha Ramu highlighted various food-based approaches in anganwadi centres for women and children.

Prof M S Swaminathan, Founder MSSRF emphasized on the need to diversify diets. “The Public Distribution System provides for pulses and millets; this needs to be implemented more effectively and we must eat more diversified and healthy foods. It is time we think of nutrition security. We are in a position to overcome hunger, but we need to overcome protein and micro-nutrient deficiency. Techniques and technologies are available, but we just need to put the pieces together.”

Dr Dhanalakshmi, Dean, College of Food and Dairy Technology, TANUVAS lamented that India has slipped down in the Hunger Index, mainly due to malnutrition among children. She spoke of the importance of milk in combating malnutrition.

Dr Anil Kumar, Executive Director, MSSRF emphasized on the four dimensions of food – nutrition, food for health, food for sustainable growth (environmental impact) and food and culture (diversity) for achieving the goal of Zero Hunger.

Dr R V Bhavani, Director – Agriculture, Nutrition and Health Programme at MSSRF, said, in spite of progress in food and agriculture, there were still over 800 million malnourished people in 2018 and a country like India loses as much as USD 12 billion due to malnutrition. She shared the results of 5-year study done in two regions of India to demonstrate how farming systems can help contribute to better nutrition. A film on this study was screened on the occasion.

Practitioners in health and nutrition, scientists, scholars and students attended the event.