Noida: In celebration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, on 75 Years of India’s Independence, a lecture on “Are we nutritionally secured at 75” was organized virtually by Amity University, Noida wherein Dr. Suresh Walia, Emeritus Scientist, Indian Agricultural Research Institute and Former Principal Scientist, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi shared his views. He stated at the time of independence food shortage was the biggest challenge. 1947 and 1960 were the years when India was facing the problem of famine. 90% of the population living in rural areas is dependent on agriculture for livelihood. There was no change in agricultural practices in a long time. Dr Walia said, “Today the agricultural food grain production in the country has increased manifold from 50 MT in 1950 to 296 MT in 2019-20 and is estimated at 303 MT in 2020-21. Nutrition security will be major challenge even after almost 75 years, 195 million people were malnourished in 2016-17 despite availability of self-sufficiency in food production. Infants, children, women, poor, farmers and the exploited section of the society are insecure in terms of nutrition. About 47 million children in India are unable to realize their full human potential due to malnutrition and underdevelopment”. He also shared information about the schemes being run by the government like National Food Security Act 2013, National Food Security Mission, National Nutrition Mission, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana etc. Dr. Walia suggested that India needs to accelerate its efforts to achieve nutrition security by developing nutraceuticals and functional foods from food and non- food crops, developing cost effective technologies for efficient extraction and purification of nutraceuticals and their value addition. More investment in horticulture and agro based industries, irrigation, rural literacy, agricultural R&D, and extension to increase food commodity supply. Farmers should be encouraged and incentivized to increase production of crops, bio- fortified with micronutrients and nutraceuticals said Dr. Walia.
Welcoming the guest, Dr Nutan Kaushik, Director General, Amity Institute of Horticulture Studies & Research said at Amity, we do research to increase agricultural production, improve quality and enhance income of farmers, including providing them modern techniques and solving their problems. In the coming times, along with the availability of food for a large population, nutrition will also be a big challenge for the generation. Therefore, it is important to address this challenge as soon as possible. Dr. Kaushik also said public- private partnership for developing rural infrastructure like roads, storage, and education amongst others will be beneficial in dealing with food nutrition.