‘PDS to include millets to tackle malnutrition’

Despite efforts being made since independence, malnutrition burden is still high in the country and one way of tackling it is enlarging the food basket in the Public Distribution System through inclusion of nutritive millets, says M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman-emeritus, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF).

The Foundation has been working to promote farming systems for nutrition-rich food crops and livestock and preserve and popularise local and traditional varieties of cereals, millets cultivated by tribal people of Kolli Hills in Tamil Nadu and Jeypore tract in Odisha.

Enlarged food basket

The proposed National Food Security Bill being finalised has provisions to address malnutrition through enlarged food basket in the PDS, Prof. Swaminathan told The Hindu , on the sidelines of the COP-11 Satellite event on ‘Biodiversity Management for Alleviating Poverty and Malnutrition’ at the NIN here on Wednesday.

“The PDS will include all the millets like ragi, bajra at Rs.1 a kg, wheat at Rs.2 a kg and rice at Rs.3 a kg. The first 1,000 day cycle in the life of a child, ie from womb till it is two years old, is important to get healthy nutrition. A child with low birth weight tends to suffer from cognitive difficulties,” he said.

The Food Security Bill for the first time recognised the role of woman in ensuring household food security and proposed that PDS card be given in the name of woman, he said.

Two reports

Prof. Swaminathan who heads the panel of experts on Food and Nutrition Security will be submitting two reports on ‘Social Protection for Food Security’ and ‘Climate Change and Food Security’ to the Global committee on World Food Security that will be meeting on October 15.

Earlier, speaking at the inaugural of ‘Biodiversity management’ organised by the MSSRF and National Institute of Nutrition, he said government to tackle malnutrition and poverty needed to marry agriculture with nutrition.

Focus on food security floor ie availability of food, access to food through social protection measures and absorption of food through better sanitation was equally important.

Food Security Bill for the first time recognises role of woman in household food security

The Bill proposes that PDS card be given in the name of woman: M.S. Swaminathan

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