December 7, 2017: The Government has approved a National Nutrition Mission with a three-year budget of Rs. 9,000 crore. This is the government’s response to the widespread malnutrition resulting in children with impaired cognitive abilities. The Nutrition Mission to be successful should be designed on a mission mode with symbiotic interaction among components and with a Mission Director who has the requisite authority coupled with accountability. Earlier Missions were not successful because the concept of the Mission was not fully operationalised. For example the Nutrition Mission should have the following interactive components to make it a success:
Overcoming undernutrition through the effective use of the provisions of the Food Security Act and also taking advantage of the enlarged food basket which includes millets in addition to rice and wheat
Assuring enough protein intake through increased pulses production and increased consumption of milk and poultry products.
Overcoming the hidden hunger caused by micronutrient malnutrition through the establishment of genetic gardens of biofortified plants.
Ensuring food quality and safety through steps for the adoption of improved post-harvest management.
In addition to the above, there is need within the mission for provision of clean drinking water, sanitation, primary health care and nutrition literacy. Further we must ensure that Community Hunger Fighters well versed in the methods of applying agricultural remedies to nutritional maladies are trained with the help of agriculture universities. The Nutrition Mission should have proper monitoring tools so that the efficacy of the intervention can be judged. Thus the term Mission should not only be in terms of a project title but more importantly in the procedure of implementation through synergy and symbiosis among different components of balanced nutrition.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.