‘Nutri-Garden’ provides new pathway to address malnutrition


Natural nutritious plants come in handy during lockdown

June 2020: The importance of nutri-gardens to support nutrition of communities was evident during the pandemic lockdown situation, providing much-needed seeds and crops to disadvantaged communities. The four nutri-gardens are located in the Krishi Vigyan Kendras of Kanpur Dehat district, Uttar Pradesh, Palghar district in Maharashtra, Thiruvallur district in Tamil Nadu and MSSRF-Biju Patnaik Medicinal Plants Garden & Research Centre, Jeypore, Koraput district, Odisha.

The nutri-garden approach is being implemented by MSSRF in four different agro-ecologies and in districts affected by different forms of malnutrition in India. It aims to achieve food-based nutrition security for malnourished tribal and rural households and increase capacity among 2,000 small and marginal farm families for cultivation of nutri-rich plants across these districts.

During the lockdown, the nutri-gardens distributed nutritionally rich crops and plants to farmers in these four districts. Each garden also managed to give freshly grown greens, vegetables and fruits to 150 socially and economically weaker households, mainly landless agricultural labourers, small and marginal farmers living around these nutri-gardens.

The initiative aims to conserve nutritionally important, propagate them and provide quality planting material to small and marginal farmers for their farms and homesteads. Says Dr G N Hariharan, Project Coordinator and Executive Director i/c, MSSRF. “The research into these plants not only puts the value of more than 150 varieties in our hands, it becomes an opportunity to reach these to other districts to set up a similar grid of nutri-gardens for the eradication of malnutrition in the country. The nutri-garden in a district will serve as a mother garden with nutrition naturally occurring in these plants. It is expected to support food-based nutrition security - a sustainable way to ensure community-level nutrition security across the country.”

The project is supported under Grand Challenges India Initiative by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council, Government of India and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Text: Jayashree B, Dr G N Hariharan and team