Daily Current Affairs – 2020Topic: For Prelims and Mains
Recently, the Ministry of Human Resources Development brought out school ‘Nutrition Garden’ guidelines, encouraging students to identify fruits and vegetables best suited to topography, soil and climate.
Nutrition Garden envisages providing students lifelong social, numerical and presentation skills, care for living organisms and teamwork, besides being used in the Mid-Day meal scheme.
Based on Nutrition Garden, agro biodiversity can be contemplated all across India, to address India’s hunger issues.
Agrobiodiversity is the result of the interaction between the environment, genetic resources and management systems and practices used by culturally diverse people.
India’s promising genetic resources include rice from Tamil Nadu (Konamani), Assam (Agni bora) and Kerala (Pokkali), Bhalia Wheat and mushroom (Guchhi) from Himachal Pradesh and rich farm animal native breeds — cattle (42), buffaloes (15), goat (34), sheep (43) and chicken (19).
Since, genetic diversity of crops, livestock and their wild relatives, are fundamental to improve crop varieties and livestock breeds, this can help in the following ways:
In combating hunger: India is ranked 102 in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) out of 117 qualified countries.
Hunger is defined by caloric deprivation; protein hunger; hidden hunger by the deficiency of micronutrients.
Malnutrition: Nearly 47 million or four out of 10 children in India do not meet their potential because of chronic undernutrition or stunting.
Agrobiodiversity can help in nutrition-sensitive farming and bio-fortified foods.
For instance, moringa (drumstick) has micronutrients and sweet potato is rich in Vitamin A. There are varieties of pearl millet and sorghum rich in iron and zinc.
Today, only 30 crops form the basis of the world’s agriculture and just three species of maize, rice and wheat supply more than half the world’s daily calories.
There is a need for a comprehensive policy on ‘ecological agriculture’ to enhance native pest and pollinator population providing ecosystem services for the agricultural landscape.
Bio-village concept: Ecologically sensitive farming can be done by conserving crop wild relatives of cereals, millets, oilseeds, fibres, forages, fruits and nuts, vegetables, spices etc. for crop genetic diversity healthier food.
Providing incentives for farmers cultivating native varieties and those conserving indigenous breeds of livestock and poultry varieties.
Community seed banks should be encouraged in each agro-climatic zone.
Developing a national level invasive alien species policy is required to identify pathways, mapping, monitoring, managing, controlling and eradicating invasive species.
The consumption pattern and culinary diversity must be enlarged to increase India’s food basket.