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Food Grains Project To Tackle Malnutrition In India

In an attempt to provide a solution to the nationwide prevalent malnutrition, 13 premier research institutions in India have decided to work in collaboration to ensure adequate supply of value added food grains. //

This strategy is poised to mark a major shift in the national food policy by 2015. The first, experimental phase of the project is over and the trial phase is beginning.

Iron and zinc deficiency are very serious public health problems in India,' said M.K. Bhan, secretary, biotechnology, in the Indian government, at a three-day conference of national and international experts held in the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation here.

'Even if our socio-economic conditions were to improve, iron deficiencies will remain for years to come,' Bhan said.

'We realize our folic acid (iron) supplementary programme is not bearing fruit...millions of women, feeding mothers, expecting mothers continue to suffer from malnutrition,' the official added.

S. Nagarajan, chairperson, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights, a government support mechanism, said: 'It is time for us to look at not the volume but the quality of food.'

The project is expected to change the quality of life for millions who are now experiencing 'hidden hunger'. India is believed to have the world's largest conglomeration of malnourished people, with half the country's children reporting underweight. Partnering India is HarvestPlus, an international bio-fortification programme, set up in 1993 in collaboration with the Columbia-based International Centre for Tropical Agriculture.

The initiative is led by the International Rice Research Institute, Philippines, and the International Food Policy Research Institute. HarvestPlus coordinates pilot studies in biofortification of crops by a dozen universities and research organizations worldwide.

'We have been going to African countries like Uganda and Moz
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