The Kerala government has sought Central assistance to distribute ragi powder and chickpea instead of wheat atta in at least three districts where anaemia cases and lifestyle-related diseases are high. Kerala Food Minister G.R. Anil told reporters here on Friday after a meeting with Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal that the demand was in place of about 6459.04 metric tonnes of wheat, which had been stopped by the Centre from its quota recently.
Mr. Anil said the demand to distribute ragi powder was made after studies by Kerala Health Department and the State Food Commission recommended millets and pulses for anaemia-hit districts such as Wayanad, and Palakkad and Idukki. He said in a letter to Mr. Goyal that as 2022-2023 was the International Year of Millets, Kerala was planning to supply ragi powder to ration card holders to provide adequate food security, especially to tribal families in the hilly areas of Palakkad, Wayanad and Idukki districts and through fair price shops in at least one panchayat on a pilot basis.
For this, the State had demanded 991 metric tonnes of ragi powder. It was the quantity required at the rate of one kg for an average of 500 ration cardholders of each fair price shop under the purview of 1,034 local self-governments and at the rate of one kg for ration cardholders of about 948 fair price shops in Idukki, Palakkad and Wayanad. “As part of ensuring more nutrient-rich food to people, especially tribals, I humbly request you to look into the above proposal and take necessary steps for the allotment of ragi at the earliest,” Mr. Anil said in the letter.
The State has also requested protein-rich white gram (chickpea) along with other foodgrains. “This may help reduce malnutrition among the tribals also. Hence, it is high time to provide nutritious food like white gram through the Public Distribution System. As envisaged in the Food Security Act, to provide adequate food security, we are planning to provide one kilogram of white gram or chickpea per card, as a protein supplement through one fair price shop in each local self-government and every fair price shop in hilly areas of Idukki, Palakkad and Wayanad District on a pilot basis,” Mr. Anil added. The State has demanded 991 MT of chickpea from the Centre. “Goyal positively responded for both the requests,” Mr. Anil said.
The Centre had cut down wheat allocation and replaced it with rice for at least 10 States recently. The matter was raised by States such as Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh at a recent Food Ministers’ meeting. The States demanded restoration of wheat quota. Kerala, on the other hand, has demanded ragi instead of wheat.