Farming System for Nutrition

Farming is the main livelihood of a majority of people in India. The country is also home to a large population of undernourished people. Farming system for nutrition (FSN) is defined as the ‘introduction of agricultural remedies to the nutritional maladies prevailing in an area through mainstreaming nutritional criteria in the selection of the components of a farming system involving crops, farm animals and wherever feasible, fish’[1].

A study was conducted to explore feasibility of the FSN approach to address nutrition status by improving the dietary diversity through agriculture in Wardha district (five villages) in Maharashtra and Koraput district (seven villages) in Odisha from 2013-2018. Baseline survey in 2013-14 revealed that diets were cereal dominated and the population largely undernourished[2]. The FSN interventions focused on increasing availability of nutrient-dense crops by enhancing production at the farm level; improving diet diversity through on-farm crop diversification; and promoting naturally biofortified fruits and vegetables, through nutrition gardens. Poultry was promoted in Wardha and fishery in Koraput as supporting animal food interventions; nutrition awareness was an integral component of the approach.

Endline survey in late 2017 revealed evidence of greater production and dietary diversity and understanding and acceptance of nutrition-sensitive agriculture. Both the number of food items consumed under each food group and frequency of consumption of particularly pulses, vegetables and fruits increased in both the locations compared to baseline. The average per capita intake of nutrient rich foods also improved.[3],[4] The results provide evidence regarding efficacy of location specific FSN models to address nutrition deficiencies in farm populations and promoting sustainable and healthy diets using locally available plant and animal food resources.  Men and women farmers have emerged as spokespersons at different forums contributing to the uptake of the approach. By end of the study period, there was evidence of its uptake in 18 more villages in Koraput and and 16 more villages in Wardha. Based on this, MSSRF has engaged in advocacy of the FSN approach with governments at the national and state levels[5]. FSN models are being set up in Krishi Vigyan Kendras

[1] Nagarajan, S., Bhavani, R.V., & Swaminathan, M.S. (2014). Operationalizing the concept of farming system for nutrition through the promotion of nutrition-sensitive agriculture. Current Science 107 (6): 959-964

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