Can agrobiodiversity support healthy foods and healthy eating in India’s School Feeding Programme?
Poster on research carried out in the IFAD-EU NUS Project presented at the 1st International Agrobiodiversity Congress in New Delhi November 2016
The Indian Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDM) being the world’s largest school feeding programme, covering 120 million children and 950 thousand schools, gives an opportunity to policy-makers to ensure better health and nutrition for children by providing healthier food, healthy eating education, and the setting of appropriate food standards and regulations. The scheme aggregates grains from across the country and supplies them to each district however the percentage of severely malnourished/under-weight children of ages 10-13 remains stubbornly high at around 30%. To date MDM has had very limited focus on local underutilized crops and their comparative nutritional advantages. Research shows the positive impact agrobiodiversity can have on nutrition yet in few states has there been inclusion of micronutrient-rich neglected and underutilized species of crops (like minor millets) in MDM. Globally there is growing interest in diversifying foods and diets in school feeding and countries like Brazil have made considerable progress in this area. Further, when food procurement linked to such programmes provides incentives for local underutilized crops it can also result benefiting small farmers financially. The successes and lessons learned from these programmes, including the many barriers and challenges facing the integration of agrobiodiversity into school feeding, will be highlighted. We also argue that such approaches to better mainstream agrobiodiversity into school feeding could be highly beneficial to India, contributing on the one side to leveraging the untapped potential of local underutilized crops, while also benefiting small farmers, and simultaneously improving nutrition in children through healthier food systems and eating environments.
Publisher: Bioversity International
Partners: Action for Social Advancement, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation
Publication Years: 2016
Nutrition Capacity, Awareness & Policy Minor millets South Asia IFAD-EU NUS Posters