Sunday, May 12, 2013


If ideas and plans of governments can be really translated into reality, India would never have been in the present sorry situation. Some of the laws and regulations in the statute books are excellent in concept but there is no teeth in implementing the same in letter and spirit. Whether political class is to be blamed or it is bureaucratic machinery that is responsible for the malaise is a million dollar question begging for an answer! In the latest proposal emanating from Delhi, a Rs 200 crore project is about to be launched for setting up a cluster of nutritional food farms in Odisha State on lands belonging to the farmers for producing new crops which are more nutritious compared to their traditional counterparts and as a pilot project if this attempt succeeds same strategy is sought to be replicated throughout the country. GoI deserves full kudos for this idea though there can be many a slip between the cup and the lip! Here is a report on this proposal as being drafted by the Agri Min of GoI.  

The Union Ministry of Agriculture has launched a pilot project to set up nutrition farms in Kalahandi district. The project is aimed at promoting cultivation of crops rich in critical micro nutrients to improve the nutrition level in food in those districts of the country which are affected by mal-nutrition. The Central Government has earmarked ` 200 crore for the implementation of the  project. Besides Kalahandi, the project will be implemented in Boudh, Dhenkanal, Gajpati, Koraput and Malkangiri districts. Deputy Director of Agriculture Kalahandi circle Kailash Chandra Behera said it is programmed to organise and demarcate the clusters for the nutritionally rich selective bio fortified crops. The varieties to be grown in Kalahandi are AD-43 paddy fortified with zinc and micro nutrients, HQPM - 1 to 5 varieties of maize which is rich in lysine and tryptophan and finger millet of PRM-1, VL-315 and VL-324 varieties which are rich in iron and zinc. It is programmed to set up farms in the fields of beneficiaries. Paddy will be raised in 100 clusters, maize in 230 and finger millets in 100. Each of the clusters will be of 10 hectares. Seed, micro nutrients and fertiliser worth `5000 per hectare will be given to the beneficiaries while ` 500 per hectare will be given for miscellaneous expenses to execute the works. The pilot project is a new concept and will be gradually popularised, added Behera.

Iron and Vitamin A are the two critical micro nutrients which are grossly inadequate causing anemia and blindness among many rural folks. The new seeds and other required inputs are sought to be supplied to the identified  farmers with necessary technical assistance for familiarizing them with right agricultural husbandry practices to enable them to raise the new crops. Whether the eating quality of new varieties being propagated would be satisfactory as far as the consumers are concerned or whether theses farmers will face any problem in marketing the surplus production remains to be seen. One may recall similar efforts earlier to propagate Vitamin A rich rice varieties by the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) which was not an unqualified success because of the yellow tint evident in the grains. Same fate should not befall here also and GoI should be beware of this.  


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