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.
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

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 Million by January

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid