Venkaiah Naidu pitches for nutrition-rich food

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Chennai, July 29: Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu today mooted diversification of food production and pressed the need to encourage farmers to cultivate nutrition-rich crops and create a market for the products.
Promoting nutrition-rich cereals and pulses through the public distribution system can be a good option, he said at the inauguration of the “National Consultation on Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition”, organised by the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation here.
“We need to create awareness among the people about the importance of nutritional value of food products. I would like to call upon institutions like the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and Krishi Vigyan Kendras to take the lead in educating our farmers,” he said.
Naidu said there was a need to build greater consumer awareness about the nutritional value of different foods so they were able to make informed decisions.
“It is time that we diversify our food production by moving away from mono-cropping of major cereals to a system that integrates a variety of food items including small millets, pulses, fruits and vegetables,” he said.
The vice-president stressed the need for in-house cultivation of food and said food security based on home grown food rather than importing food items.
On the economic side, it will reduce the country’s import burden as nearly six million tonnes of pulses were coming from overseas, he said.
The vice-president said the government, civil society, scientists and researchers must share knowledge and expertise with farmers to make agriculture sustainable and nutrition-rich.
He also said it was quite distressing to note that in spite of the efforts taken by successive governments at the centre and in various states, the problem of mal-nutrition persisted in the country at unacceptable levels.
Some of the major contributory factors of mal-nutrition were the quantitative and qualitative deficits in food intake, environmental conditions and access to health, he added.
Later, Naidu participated in the valedictory of ‘OSKON2018’, a ocular surface and keratoprosthesis conference organised by the Sankara Nethralaya, a premier eyecare institute here.
In his address, he pitched for increase in facilities to treat cataract, glaucoma and other ophthalmological problems.
“Since 80-90 per cent blindness is avoidable, we need to increase eye care facilities to treat cataract, glaucoma and other ophthalmological problems. Blindness from glaucoma can be prevented if diagnosed and treated early,” he added.
He said the union government and various state governments as also the private sector were working shoulder-to-shoulder in reducing blindness through comprehensive eye care services.
The need of the hour was to ensure that these services were available in rural areas, particularly the remote parts of the country, Naidu added.(PTI)