Millets in mid-day meal to boost nutrition
The Hindu | december 14, 2012
Come January, schoolchildren may savour the flavour of ragi puttu and cholam biscuits in their mid-day meals.
The State government plans to introduce millets in the mid-day meal owing to its increased nutritional value from January 26, 2013, said T.Thanasekaran, deputy director of the Agriculture department.
“The process is on to include millets in the nutritious meal scheme and we hope to launch it on the Republic Day. Initially, we may introduce items such as puttu, kali or dosai with finger millet (Ragi) and biscuits with barnyard millet (cholam). Soon, depending on how the children receive the recipe we may think of including millets in the Public Distribution System (PDS),” he said.
This move comes in the backdrop of the Agriculture Ministry urging the States to introduce millets in the scheme last September.
This time, the monsoon can be called a near failure and we have incurred deficit of rainfall. When the production of paddy falls, cultivation of millets, which are highly drought-resistant, could be increased. We are trying to increase the productivity of millets by distributing improved variety of seeds to farmers,” he added.
For quite sometime now, the State has been organising demonstrations and campaigns for farmers to promote cultivation of millets.
V.R. Ananthoo of Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) who also runs reStore— a not-for-profit store that sells organic products sourced from farmers and underprivileged groups — was asked to facilitate a meeting by the State Planning Commission in October to promote millets. In fact, the officers were given an eight-course millet meals with dishes such as Varagu Bissibelabath, Saamai curd rice etc.
“Just when we had been working at reStore with a focus to bring back millets, we organised a meeting for the Planning Commission with secretaries of various departments to sensitise them about millets. Since millets are easy to grow, drought-resistant and replenish the soil as well, it can be used to address several issues including malnutrition,” he said.
Dr. G. Sivaraman, a Siddha physician, said malnutrition in the State could best be tackled by inclusion of millets in the mid-day meal.
“Malnutrition is mainly caused due to low protein levels in the body. Finger millets and barnyard millets will increase protein content in the body. Plus, millets are low glycemic functional food which prevents non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardio-vascular diseases and cancers,” he said.
– Plan to introduce puttu, kali or dosai with finger millet
– New recipe likely from January 26