List of Contents
Synopsis: Self-reliance and the adoption of sustainable food systems to address nutrition security amongst women and children is needed to address the tackle the challenge of nutrition.
In the backdrop of Poshan Maah in September 2021, the Ministry of Women and Child Development is keen to promote the establishment of “Poshan Vatikas” across the country.
What are Poshan Vatikas?
These are the Nutri-gardens which aim to provide a fresh supply of fruits, vegetables and even medicinal plants.
Nutri-gardens represent a global best practice that has the potential to address the multiple goals of diet diversity, nutrition security, agri-food cultivation, local livelihood generation and environmental sustainability.
What are the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) guidelines regarding it?
The main objective of introducing them is to encourage community members to grow local food crops in their backyards.
This will provide an inexpensive, regular and handy supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. This will also help in addressing the micro-nutrient deficiencies through access to diverse and nutritious diets. Moreover, it would also help in the generation of economic activity for local cultivators and village industries.
Land Space: It will identify land spaces used to set up vatikas including anganwadi centres, panchayat areas, government schools, vacant lands or any other patch of community/government land available in the locality.
It also mandates retrofitting of these gardens with backyard poultry and fishing as per the prevalent food culture. This can be particularly useful in addressing the protein requirements.
What are the benefits of the Nutri gardens?
Promote dietary behaviors: Educate children about the need for the consumption of fresh food produce and promote messaging for healthy dietary behaviors amongst women. For example, the government has been incentivizing a drive for the plantation of moringa at all anganwadi centres. Moringa or drumstick, is a native Indian plant, rich in beta carotene, iron, vitamins A, B2, B6 and C5.
Global Scientific research: A review of global evidence from USA and South Africa shows that setting up of nutri-gardens can significantly improve awareness about dietary diversity and a preference for the consumption of fresh food produce. In India, the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation has taken various steps for this like seed kits for growing green leafy vegetables, roots and saplings of fruit trees etc.
What should be the way forward?
The success of the national strategy depends on how the Poshan Vatika programme is implemented.
There is need to overcome the barriers like that availability of cultivable land, water, the skill of farmers etc. If all this can be implemented then Poshan Vatikas would become an opportunity to increase convergence between agriculture and nutrition policy for India.
Source: This post is based on the following articles “How Poshan vatikas can help bridge the nutrition “published in Indian Express on 24th September 2021.