NITI Aayog and LANSA seek better agriculture-nutrition linkages in India

India houses a large population of under-nourished people. As per the latest round of the National Family Health Survey, 38% of children under 5 years of age are stunted, 36% are underweight and 58% are anaemic. This bleak nutrition picture calls for support and action from policymakers, and the recently released a National Nutrition Strategy by NITI Aayog as well as the Government of India launching a National Nutrition Mission (NNM) to address the problem of malnutrition are steps in this direction. 

With a majority of the country’s population continuing to be dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, there is potential for agriculture and farming systems to play a major role in finding solutions for better nutrition. A high-level multi-sectoral one-day round-table on ‘Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition’ was thus hosted jointly by NITI Aayog and M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), Chennai under the Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) research programme in Delhi on January 30 to discuss the nutritional dimension in agricultural policies and programme in India. A full presentation on research in India under LANSA programme was made to dignitaries present, and recommendations for policy action were also proposed.

The consultation was led by Prof. Ramesh Chand, Member (Agriculture) and Dr Vinod K Paul, Member (Health & Nutrition), NITI Aayog, and attended by over 30 experts including participation from the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, ICAR and policy influencers. The programme aimed at delivering recommendation for policy action for better agriculture-nutrition linkages in the country, so as to remove barriers on nutritional outcomes.

Many pertinent points were raised on data availability, data quality and the need for further scientific investigation on the subject research gaps. Deliberations raised issues regarding agri-nutrition information gaps, and the absence of linkages to strengthen the existing scenario. There was unanimous agreement on refining the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) and nutrition norms prescribed by Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) to suit the Indian man / woman / and child. The potential of bio-fortification of food crops to address nutrition deficiency and the need for necessary policy support in this direction came out strongly. The relevance of a farming system for nutrition approach for household-level nutrition security, especially for small and marginal farmers, was flagged as important. Also, the need for a life-cycle mode to tackling undernutrition coupled with nutrition literacy at all levels was emphasized.

The approved minutes including a list of actions to be taken and the agency responsible has been circulated by NITI Aayog to invitees from key government departments and institutions. 

See agenda below:

Timing/ Schedule        Particulars

10.00 - 11.00 hrs.        Welcome and Introductory Remarks :

             Dr. J P Mishra, Adviser (Agri), NITI Aayog

 Dr. Madhura Swaminathan, Chairperson, MSSRF & Chair, LANSA Consortium Steering Group

             Introduction of Participants

Chair: Prof. Ramesh Chand, Member (Agriculture), NITI Aayog

11.00 – 11.30 hrs:       Setting the Context – Key issues in Nutrition and Linking

                                    Agriculture and Nutrition: Prof. Ramesh Chand

11.30 – 11.50 hrs:       Evidence emerging from LANSA Research:

            Dr. R V Bhavani,  Programme Manager, LANSA, MSSRF

11.50 – 12.10 hrs:       What leads, do we get from the Food Consumption Pattern?  

            Dr. R Hemalatha, Director, National Institute of Nutrition

12.10 -  12.30 hrs:      Increasing pulses and millets in Indian diets :

                                    Dr. Anura Kurpad, HoD, Physiology, St. John’s Research Institute

12.30 – 12.50 hrs:       Millets for food and nutrition security:

                                    Dr. V A Tonapi, Director, Indian Institute of Millets Research

12.50 -  13.15 hrs:       Discussion on Presentations

13.15 – 14.00 hrs        Lunch

14.00 – 16.00 hrs        Chair: Dr. Vinod K Paul, Member (Health & Nutrition), NITI Aayog

            Round-table discussion on Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition

16.00 – 16.30 hrs.       Concluding Remarks:

             Sh. Rakesh Srivastava, Secretary, MoWCD;

             Dr. Ashok Dalwai, CEO, NRAA, DAC &FW

             Ms. Vandana Gurnani, Jt. Secretary, MoH&FW

            Dr. Suresh Kumar K, Scientist ‘F’, O/o PSA to the Govt. of India

            Prof. Ramesh Chand, Member (Agriculture), NITI Aayog and

            Dr. Vinod K Paul, Member (Health & Nutrition), NITI Aayog

16.20 – 16.25 hrs.       Vote of Thanks: MSSRF

16.25 hrs.                    Tea


South Asia Focus

Funded by UK DFID

This research has been funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development; however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK Government’s official policies



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