Despite the progress India has made, there is an alarming prevalence of malnutrition and hidden hunger among adolescents in the country as pointed out by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday. Expressing concern, he said that the issue should be addressed on a war footing.
Addressing the 58th Convocation of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi, Naidu pointed out that more than 80 per cent of adolescents in India suffer from “hidden hunger”.
“This problem has to be addressed on a war footing as youth are the backbone of the nation,” he said.
Observing that malnutrition was a serious health issue as it increased susceptibility to various diseases, the vice president referred to the growing problem of non-communicable diseases and advised the youth to shun sedentary lifestyle and junk food.
Naidu urged institutions such as IARI to develop high yielding, disease-resistant and nutrient-rich varieties of crops. He also wanted them to educate people on the dangers of excessive use of pesticides as it was leading to increasing instances of diseases like cancers.
“A country like India cannot depend on imported food security. We need homegrown, protein-rich food to meet the needs of the burgeoning population,” he added.
Naidu lauded the institution for developing several bio-fortified maize hybrids rich in lysine, tryptophan and pro-vitamin A and pearl millet, lentil varieties rich in iron and zinc and said that it was indeed a step in the right direction for making India nutritionally secure.
“Combination of appropriate policies, technologies, and institutional arrangements are vital to transform agriculture and make it sustainable and profitable,” he added.
The vice president also called upon the scientific community to lay emphasis on enhancing the productivity of small and marginal farmers.
“The small and marginal farmers are the most vulnerable and their welfare must be accorded the highest priority,” he said, urging institutions like IARI to utilise technological advancements to improve the life of farmers and ensure that their research reaches the farm.
Stating that all efforts must be made to double the income of the farmers in the next few years, the vice president called for concerted efforts to improve agricultural productivity. He also stressed the need for diversifying traditional cropping systems as it would reduce economic risk while increasing the scope for higher profitability.
“Diversifying traditional cropping systems and taking allied activities would provide resilience to farmers to withstand the vagaries of nature,” he added.Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, malnutirtion, hunger