ITC Limited, announces the second phase of its CSR project – ‘Balposhan’ – a dedicated initiative that addresses child malnutrition in India with a special focus on children below 5 years. In collaboration with NUTRIHUB, ICAR-Indian Institute of Millets Research, and MAMTA Health Institute for Mother & Child, this project will be implemented in the Valsad district of Gujarat. This initiative is a part of ITC’s Mission Millet campaign, aimed at contributing to various on-going government initiatives of reducing the risks of nutritional deficiencies and also by encouraging the cultivation and consumption of millets, in India.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between ITC and MAMTA Health Institute, partnering NUTRIHUB- ICAR-IIMR along with outlining the objectives and implementation plan of Balposhan. Dignitaries present at the signing event included Dr. B. Dayakar Rao, CEO, NUTRIHUB & Principal Scientist, NUTRIHUB, ICAR-IIMR, Mr. Hemant Malik, Executive Director, ITC Ltd said, Dr. Shantanu Sharma, Deputy Director, MAMTA. The MoU signifies the commitment of the organisations to work together towards eradicating child malnutrition, as well as the broader vision of a ‘Kuposhan Mukt Bharat’ – a nation free from malnutrition.
Through Balposhan, ITC is committed to making a meaningful impact in tackling malnutrition among under-five children, particularly focusing on the vulnerable population of Valsad district in the state of Gujarat. The cornerstone of this effort is the Community based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) model, a proven approach that empowers community volunteers to identify and treat malnourished children before their conditions worsen.
By integrating treatment with comprehensive long-term interventions, Balposhan aims to not only alleviate acute malnutrition but also improve overall public health and food security sustainably. The comprehensive strategy encompasses community mobilisation, nutritional rehabilitation, structured maternal education and innovative tools like ‘Balvikas kits’ for early childhood development.
The implementation of the program will be across 85 villages in the Valsad district of Gujarat. The NutriHub team has developed nutrient-dense, millet-based supplementary foods such as Millet Nutri Bar, Millet Khakra Cookies and Millet Khichdi Mix tailored to the specific needs of malnourished children as part of the food based nutritional intervention. These innovative products will play a crucial role in the holistic approach adopted by Balposhan.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Hemant Malik, Executive Director, ITC Ltd said – “We are indeed delighted to launch Phase 2 of Balposhan, our CSR initiative dedicated to combatting child malnutrition. As we celebrate International Year of Millets 2023 (IYOM 2023), we are committed to drive impactful change in the nutritional landscape of the nation in collaboration with NUTRIHUB, ICAR-IIMR and MAMTA, with a comprehensive strategy and innovative solutions, we are making efforts to create a secure and healthier future for our children. As part of ITC’s Mission Millets campaign, Balposhan project is part of our endeavour to ‘Help India Eat Better’.“
Speaking about the collaboration, Dr Shantanu Sharma, Deputy Director, MAMTA, Health Institute for Mother and Child said, “Through the collaborative synergy of ITC’s Balposhan Phase 2 and NUTRIHUB, ICAR-IIMR’s technical excellence, we embark on a resolute journey to sculpt a malnutrition-free India. By nurturing the seeds of health and knowledge, we illuminate the path towards a brighter future for our nation’s children”
Speaking on this association Dr. Dayakar Rao, Principal Scientist, at ICAR-IIMR and CEO, NUTRIHUB said, “In collaboration with ITC and MAMTA we are taking forward our agenda to combat child malnutrition. We are happy to provide innovative millet-based food solutions that will help meet nutrition requirements amongst these children and overcome malnutrition. As we work together, we wish to create a nourished and vibrant future for the young generation of India.”
In the first phase of Project Balposhan, ITC engaged with 1,000 beneficiaries including children under 5 years, their mothers, as well as pregnant women in Valsad district, Gujarat. The initiative helped raise awareness about the negative impact of malnutrition’s on children under 5 years of age, particularly within the crucial first 1,000 days of their lives. The project’s key achievements encompassed a comprehensive assessment of nutrition status, dietary intakes and caregiving practices among children and their mothers. The findings from this phase resonated with the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) data, reflecting both alarming rates of malnutrition indicators and alignment with existing statistics.
This collaboration not only aligns with the Indian government’s focus on addressing malnutrition but also contributes to ITC’s commitment to sustainable development and corporate social responsibility. Together with NUTRIHUB, ICAR- IIMR and MAMTA, ITC is taking a giant stride towards building a healthier, stronger and malnutrition-free future for India’s children.
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