India has been able to fight protein hunger and calorie hunger but now there is a need to fight hidden hunger. India’s focus needs to shift from food security to nutrition security so that attention is paid not only to calories and proteins but also to micronutrients. If one wants healthy mothers and children, there needs to be eradication of three kinds of hunger — protein hunger, caused by deficiency of protein; calorie hunger, caused by deficiency of calories, and hidden hunger caused by deficiency of micronutrients such as iodine and iron.
It is time for a nutrition revolution in India and it is important to work to achieve that to end malnutrition, renowned agriculture scientist Prof M S Swaminathan said at a three-day conference on Farming System for Nutrition, held by M S Swaminathan Research Foundation. The three-day consultation was organised by MSSRF with support of Tata Trusts, which brought together scientists and experts in nutrition and agriculture, farmers, policy makers and NGOs.
India as a country has the largest number of people with malnutirition in the world, despite adequate food production and availability of cereals. This is a nutrition engima. It calls for a multi-sectoral approach involving areas including agriculture, health and rural development to ensure nutrition for people across the social spectrum. States play a significant role through the Mid Day meal scheme and providing millets and pulses in the Public Distribution Scheme.
Another aspect of the nutrition revolution is data planning. Niti Aayog is in the process of developing input indicators for nutrition, relevant to India, rather than based on international standards. The Indian Council for Agriculture Research make recommendations on farming system packages rather than for individual crops so that nutrition sensitive agriculture can be promoted.
Co-ordinated action across different sectors like health, agriculture and sanitation will bring about a nutrition revolution.