News / Asia

Indian Farmers on Frontline of 'Hidden Hunger' Fight

In India, Biofortification Efforts Address Micronutrient Deficiencyi
X
May 03, 2013 6:33 PM
In western India, farmers are among the first in the country to harvest crops that are fortified with key nutrients. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the Indian state of Maharashtra.
Aru Pande
In western India, farmers like Popat Pokharkar are among the first in the country to harvest crops that are fortified with key nutrients to combat what is being called the country's hidden hunger.
 
Pokharkar, a fourth-generation farmer, is just getting ready to harvest this year’s pearl millet crop. The grain — a staple in India and in parts of Africa — helps feed his family and livestock at a time when much of his home state of Maharashtra is experiencing a drought.
 
“In the summer season, it’s the best crop when there is limited water and it is more nutritious for the children,” he says, explaining that this particular pearl millet, unlike varieties grown by his forefathers, is enriched with iron.
 
As part of a program run by Washington-based non-governmental organization HarvestPlus, farmers in this village outside the city of Pune are spearheading biofortification efforts to address micronutrient deficiency in a country where one in three children is said to be malnourished.
 
“Villagers and tribal people are malnutritioned, so this is the only way — a cheap way with less cost — to increase their vitamins [and] irons, all these micronutrients that are needed for the health of the body," said Sunil Gandham of Nirmal Seeds, who partnered with HarvestPlus to provide iron-fortified seeds in what he calls the new direction of agriculture.
 
“Programs like this are crucial in a country where more than 60 percent of women are iron deficient or anemic, leading to problems in pregnancy, childbirth and in the growth and development of young children.”
 
Some 20 percent of maternal deaths in India are caused by anemia, a decrease in red blood cells that is often caused by iron and vitamin deficiency.
 
Parwath Pokharkar has seen the effects of anemia in her village.
 
“A lot of women experience heavy bleeding, tiredness, and you cannot sustain, you cannot do work,” she said.
 
She and others welcome efforts to fortify staple crops. In the case of pearl millet or bajra, the grain is made into a flat bread, or roti, which is eaten everyday by families in Maharashtra.
 
The biofortified millet can provide 30 percent of the mean daily iron requirement of women and children.
 
Farmer Dhanesh Pokharkar says the benefit will be widespread.
 
“This will help not only to my family but also the laborers who harvest the millet, they eat the same grain,” he said.
 
HarvestPlus has already introduced Vitamin A-enriched sweet potato and cassava seeds in Africa. Here in India, the organization plans to launch high-zinc rice and wheat in parts of the country later this year.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: mohamed nasrudeen from: madurai
May 04, 2013 3:37 AM
It;s an fake report

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid