November 12, 2020 1:21:05 am
The Odisha government is set to introduce fish and fish-based products in the supplementary nutrition programme for children, pregnant and nursing women, and adolescent girls. The pilot programme will start across 50 Anganwadi centres in Mayurbhanj district. An MoU in this regard was signed between the state government and World Fish, a non-profit organisation.
In the first phase, nearly 1,500 students will be benefited under the programme, said officials. “Since we are aware of the high nutritional value of fish, we are introducing it in one district as a pilot project. All beneficiaries will be surveyed, the implementation will be observed, whether and how it suits the children and then eventually we will start the programme in other districts,” Principal Secretary of the state Women and Child Development department Anu Garg told The Indian Express.
At present, amid the pandemic, the state government is giving take-home ration which includes chhatua (a powder of roasted Bengal gram, wheat, groundnut and sugar), suji halwa, maize halwa, ragi halwa, jaggery laddoo, besan laddoo and hot cooked meals to children, pregnant and lactating women, and adolescent girls. They are also provided with four boiled eggs every week apart from fruits and berries. Fifteen gram of fish powder would be added to the daily curry of children at anganwadi centre.
Adolescent girls and pregnant women will be given dried small fish as part of take-home ration. The fish powder and dried fish would be sourced from Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Cochin, officials said. Small fish like anchovy, Indian Sardine and lesser sardine would be given to the beneficiaries in powder form or in packets after being dried.
Another step towards fighting malnutrition
As per the last National Family Health Survey report, 35.3 per cent children under 5 years of age in Odisha are stunted and 35.8 per cent children are underweight. Malnourishment is a key concern in the state. In February, the state became the first in the country to draw up a separate nutrition budget. The move to introduce fish in the supplementary nutrition programme is yet another step towards fighting malnutrition.
Ten women self-help groups from the tribal district have been roped in for the programme. Gareth Johnstone, director general of World Fish, said that these women self-help groups will be provided support and guidance by technical experts from the NGO in preparation of fish powder with help of the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology.
“Small fish, especially when eaten whole, is a rich source of nutritious animal-source food. Even the skeleton of the fish is highly nutritious and can be provided in the form of powder. Fish is provided to students in many nations as well and have shown promising results,” Garg said.
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