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Consortia Research Platform (CRP) -  Biofortification in selected crops for nutritional security

Attainment of self-sufficiency in food grains at national level, especially cereals is one of the major achievements of the green revolution in mid-sixties in India. The nation’s food grains production increased markedly from 50.82 million tons in 1950-51 to 252.22 million tons during 2015-16, and a similar trend has been reported for the production of food grains since past decade. Despite the adequate production of food grains, the 2016-Global Hunger Index (GHI) Report ranked India as 9th comprising 25% of world hungry population amongst the top 118 countries. According to Rapid Survey on Children (2013-14) conducted by Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India (GOI), about 18.6 % of new born, 34.6 % of children up to 3 years, and 62.5 % of adolescent girls are suffering from malnutrition. The Government of India has made several interventions to address malnutrition; however, the incidence of malnutrition among women and children remains severe. The issue of malnutrition in the country is compounded not only by the access to food, but also by the social- and cultural- issues. Conventional strategies to combat malnutrition include dietary supplements and food fortification programmes. Efforts are now being made to fortify rice and wheat flour for iron (Fe), vitamin B12 and folic acid. Some of the constraints with these interventions include poor dissemination to the target population especially those residing in the rural areas; sustaining them over a period of time and addressing the symptoms rather than the cause of the problem. Dietary diversification is the ideal solution to alleviate malnutrition but not viable in Indian situation considering the inadequate purchasing power of the poor people. Thus the long term solution lies in increasing the essential nutrient contents of the staple food crops viz., cereals through crop biofortification strategy.

Approaches of Biofortification :  

Agronomic - Addition of appropriate mineral as an inorganic compound to the fertilizer increases the mineral content of the plant as demonstrated successfully in crops like rice, wheat, maize.  However the strategy is difficult to apply generally because of the additional expenses involved and the properties of mineral and crop.



 

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