Bengaluru, Karnataka: The burden of disease caused by “hidden hunger,” or micronutrient deficiencies have further increased post-pandemic. There is an urgent need for complementary broad-based solutions to address micronutrient deficiencies specially in emerging economies.
With an aim to further research and promote diversified, balanced and healthy diets through the sustainable production and consumption of climate-resilient and nutritious millet in various feeding programme and integration of millets in PM POSHAN scheme in various states The Akshaya Patra Foundation inks MOU with the Nutrihub, Indian Institute of Millets Research country’s premier institute that is at the forefront of promoting excellence in the field of millets research and development under the auspices of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). The collaboration is an initiative towards run-up for the 2023 as the International Year of Millets led by Government of India.
The partnership aims to: Collaborate on menu development and study efficacy, Co-ordinate to assess the feasibility of millet products or grains through mid-day meals in various states and look at possible PPP (private-public partnerships) for national scale-up.
Speaking about the partnership, Dr Daykar Rao, CEO, Nutrihub & PS, ICAR – IIMR said “Millets once the go-to nutrition choice of rural India have now become the superfood of select few urban consumers. Rich with micronutrients, Millet is known as a solution for many lifestyle problems and diseases affecting human bodies. Through this partnership, with The Akshaya Patra, we aim to democratise its production as well as usage, and bring back this superfood to the plates of the Indian population, starting first by securing the wellbeing of the children of this country.”
As the largest school feeding program in the world with a coverage of 120 million children, India’s PM POSHNA scheme offers a tremendous opportunity to address micronutrient deficiencies, and improve schooling effectiveness, and intergenerational opportunity, particularly for girl children.
Anant Arora, Chief Communications & Sustainability Officer, The Akshaya Patra Foundation said, “We are constantly striving to not just provide nutrition for education but are increasingly focussing on providing sustainable nutrition, targeted towards reducing our carbon footprint. In this regard, Millets supply super nutrients and possess excellent climate resilience properties. Thus helping us attain the sustainable developmental goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN).”
He further added, “We intend to reach millions of children with healthy, well-accepted food that promotes their physical, cognitive, and social development by leveraging scientific and practical knowledge in fortification and school meal development and delivery.”
On the distribution side, Akshaya Patra reaches nearly 1.8 million children every day through its 65 kitchens across 14 states and 2 union territories. Expanding trials with millets in diverse sociocultural contexts can help further improve the nutritional profile of Akshaya Patra’s work.
The MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) effective for three years was signed by Nutrihub, ICAR – IIMR and The Akshaya Patra Foundation.