News / Asia

India Fortifies Food to Fight 'Hidden Hunger'

An Indian farmer pulls his oxen after plowing a rice paddy in Allahabad, India, June 17, 2010 file photo.
An Indian farmer pulls his oxen after plowing a rice paddy in Allahabad, India, June 17, 2010 file photo.
TEXT SIZE - +
Aru Pande
— Malnutrition is more common in India than in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the United Nations. To address this "hidden hunger," Indian officials are joining forces with a U.S-based program to fortify staple foods with key nutrients.

The numbers are stark. The U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) says in India, one in every three children is malnourished, and nearly half of all childhood deaths are attributed to malnutrition.

The problem centers not necessarily on how much people are eating, but what they are eating. Millions in India rely on rice and wheat to fill their stomachs, but those staple foods lack crucial vitamins and minerals.

Parliament member and agriculturist M.S. Swaminathan, known as the father of India’s “Green Revolution” for introducing high-yielding crop varieties to farmers, says about 900 million men, women and children around the world are malnourished.

States in India with highest under-nutrition ratesStates in India with highest under-nutrition rates
x
States in India with highest under-nutrition rates
States in India with highest under-nutrition rates
“Nearly two billion suffer from iron deficiency and anemia particularly women, pregnant women," he says. "Therefore, overcoming this micronutrient deficiency, or what we call hidden hunger, is of great priority to us, because enough calories alone won’t help.”

Indian leaders turned to the Washington-based non-governmental organization HarvestPlus and its use of biofortification, breeding more vitamins and minerals in staple food crops, to address micronutrient deficiency.

Last year, after a decade of research,  HarvestPlus released an iron-enriched pearl millet seed to farmers in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.

The biofortified millet, which is then made into a flat bread, or roti, can provide 30 percent of the average daily iron needs of adult women, which is crucial in a region where an estimated 66 percent of children under five are anemic.

India is the latest country to enter the realm of biofortification. Several countries in Africa, including Zambia, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, already plant seeds enriched with nutrients.

“Africans eat white sweet potato, Africans eat white maize [corn], Africans eat white cassava, but there is a big vitamin A deficiency problem," says Dr. Howarth Bouis, director of HarvestPlus. "So, we have an orange sweet potato now that has been available in Africa for the last five years and we have been disseminating that.”

In Zambia, farmers planted orange corn for the first time last November.

Bouis says yellow cassava seeds were released in Nigeria more than a year ago and farmers are harvesting the vitamin A-rich crop for the first time this year. HarvestPlus says one-third of children under five in Nigeria and 61 percent in the Democratic Republic of Congo are estimated to be vitamin A deficient.

In South Asia, HarvestPlus plans to introduce high-zinc rice in India and Bangladesh and high-zinc wheat in parts of India and Pakistan later this year.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: bharati from: bharat
March 05, 2013 1:03 PM
There are (and were) plenty of local, rich nutritious strains of grains, which thrive in local conditions. These can be revived rather than importing new foods/ newly created strains.

There are tons of manure and sewage which can be treated and used for revitalizing soils.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid