Water, forest and nutrition take centre stage in Odisha


June 2020: Nutrition and environment intertwined in a unique commemoration of World Environment Day in Odisha. Tribal communities from 20 villages of Kundra, Boipariguda and Koraput blocks gathered at Kushumguda village of Lima gram panchayat.

The participants were farmers from Self-Help Groups formed each in every village with 10 to 20 members. These group members had been trained on creation of a nutrition gardens in their backyard, along with information on benefits of each plants to address nutritional deficiencies. The areas were selected based on the most vulnerable to malnutrition.

During the meeting, Mr N S Jagdish Prashad Singh, DFO, Jeypore, spoke on the importance of Jal, Jangal and Jeevan (water, forest and life) as three fundamental necessity of the present day. He urged the gathering to be proactive in protecting the environment with land development, plantation and conservation of soil and water. Ms Sneha Prabha Majhi, Block Development Officer of Kundra block and Sarpanch of Lima GP Mr Dhanpati Paroja BDO, focused on plantation of tree species, development of orchards (Adarsh Bagicha), land development, farm ponds, dug well for soil and water conservation through MGNREGS. This will help prevent migration to other states, they said.

More than 150 tribal men and women participated in this programme. Around 500 fruit bearing saplings were distributed on this occasion and avenue plantation was also initiated which will continue till the end of the month. Professor M S Swaminathan’s message on Environment Day and Biodiversity Day was presented before the participants where “diversity is the foundation of life. Our fundamental duty is to protect and enrich our biodiversity. The corona virus attack reminds us of the importance of conserving biodiversity to be useful for producing vaccine”. The theme of the Environment Day this year is – ‘Time for Nature’. It's the time for every individual to think critically how to serve nature and protect its biodiversity.

As part of the nutrition garden initiative, every household is provided with saplings and seed materials of various nutrition groups to add to their backyard garden in addition to their seeds and seedlings. Massive awareness is being created on need for crop-based family nutrition with the aim to reach around 50,000 people. This project is supported by BIRAC  for food-based nutrition security for malnourished rural households.

Keeping the COVID-19 pandemic situation in mind, during the program, all participants wore masks and hand washing was done prior to the meeting. Adequate social distancing was maintained. Participants were advised on hand washing, wearing of mask when they are going out and maintaining the social distancing in the beginning of the meeting.

At the end, all the participants were distributed with three fruit bearing plants each like amla, drumstick, papaya, wood apple, custard apple, multi-vitamin green etc. to develop the backyard nutritional garden which will support in addressing the family nutrition. 

Text: Prashant Parida

Edited by: Jayashree B