20 scientists attend a session at the National Institute of Nutrition

Subsidy/support price for millets like jowar, ragi and bajra mooted

HYDERABAD: Agriculture, nutrition and earth scientists in the State have welcomed the Government’s move to implement the Rs. 2-a-kg rice scheme, but warned against total dependence on rice because of two drawbacks -- its low nutrient density and demand for water.

A group of 20 scientists who had a ‘brainstorming session’ at the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) recently under the leadership of former special director of Indian Council for Agriculture Research M.V. Rao, felt that exclusive dependence on rice would further aggravate the high incidence of micronutrient deficiencies like anaemia and vitamin-B deficiency.

The scientists mooted subsidy/support price for millets like jowar, ragi and bajra on a par with rice to motivate farmers to grow the nutritious foodgrains.

There should be a ‘production to consumption’ strategy to promote these grains. ‘This will enhance the health and nutrition security and reduce the demand for precious groundwater’.

They favoured inclusion of millets in the scheme for its fibre content which protects against degenerative diseases like diabetes, cardio-vascular ailments and cancer.

“Unfortunately, traditional millet growers and consumers are also shifting to rice as a convenience and prestigious food,” the meeting noted with concern.

“Further incentive to grow rice will lead to a disaster. There is an urgent need to shift to SRI method which saves on water and seed and has higher productivity.”

The group recommended exploitation of soybean, a legume with high oil and protein content, as a source of protein. It felt that a process of extracting oil without solvent treatment needed to be developed so that the flour could be made available for human consumption.

“Soybean oil is nutritionally very good as, unlike most oils (except mustard), it contains Omega-3 fatty acid, which is good for brain development.”

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