Nutrition Week: Professor M S Swaminathan calls upon students to be “Hunger Fighters”
Every student should become a hunger fighter to overcome malnutrition in the country, said noted scientist, Professor M S Swaminathan, Founder, MSSRF. “There is urgent need for the entire community to be nutrition-literate and fight under-nutrition and students have a major role to play, in this process.” He was speaking to post-graduate students of the Justice Basheer Ahmed Sayeed College for Women, Chennai on Wednesday. The programme was organized by the college in partnership with the Nutrition Society of India on the occasion of Nutrition Week.
South Asia has the largest number of children with stunted growth with 2 out of 5 children being stunted and 1 out of 4 babies having low birth weight. Talking about the aspects of “Calorie deprivation, protein deficiency and micronutrient deficiency” that contribute to hunger, Professor Swaminathan spoke about the need to address all three levels to combat hunger. The Life Cycle approach that emphasizes the first 1000 days of a child’s life from womb to 2 years is a critical aspect of fighting malnutrition. It is also important to develop farming systems to support nutrition, and MSSRF is involved in such initiatives, he said.
Professor Swaminathan explained the concept of “Community Hunger Fighters” programme that is being carried out by MSSRF predominantly with tribal groups in Koraput District in Odisha. The programme involves the community to bring education, awareness and action among their peers to combat nutrition deficiency and hunger and move towards food security. This initiative has shown some tangible results over the past 3 years.
Just as in the community hunger fighter programme, Professor Swaminathan also called upon students to take on this challenge. “Fighting inequality is the biggest challenge in achieve social and gender equity and therefore each and every person should take on this fight. I call upon students to take up this challenge to achieve zero hunger” he said. Dr Rama Narayanan, Convenor, Nutrition Society of India, Chennai Chapter, the Principal Dr Shanaz Ahamed and senior staff members of JBAS college also spoke on the occasion.
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.