Ministry of Women and Child Development Signs MoU with Tasting India Symposium for Nationwide Poshan Quiz in Schools

17th December’19, New Delhi: The Food and Nutrition Board of the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development today signed an MoU with the global food advocacy hub, Tasting India Symposium, to roll out a National Poshan Lecture Series and Poshan Quiz for Schools to create greater awareness about the POSHAN Abhiyaan, the central government’s most ambitious 14-ministry push for maternal and child nutrition and health.

Presiding over the signing of the MoU at the 4th Tasting India Symposium, Ajay Tirkey, Special Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, said the government had declared a war on malnutrition by targeting pregnant women, lactating mothers, infants and adolescent girls.

Tirkey spoke about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to make POSHAN Abhiyaan a “jan andolan” (people’s movement) for community mobilisation leading to behavioural change. Pointing to the support the movement had garnered, he said governors, chief ministers or administrators of 21 states and union territories were present to express their support at the Rashtriya Poshan Maah opening on September 4, 2019.

Tirkey also announced that more than two lakh anganwadis across the country are to be upgraded and rechristened Saksham Anganwadis. “We call them Version 2.0 anganwadis. They will have better facilities and will be equipped to deliver more,” Tirkey said.

Speaking after the signing of the MoU, the Ambassador of Denmark, Freddy Svane, made a strong plea to Indians to “get back to your original food culture”. Describing food as the “energy of the future,” the Ambassador said: “You have a global responsibility. You are inspirational and aspirational India.” The Royal Embassy of Denmark is the knowledge partner of the Tasting India Symposium’s Poshan Abhiyaan initiatives.

In an illuminating conversation with nutritionist and best-selling author Kavita Devgan and Meghana Narayan, co-founder, Slurrp Farm, Pawan Agarwal, CEO, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), announced that the food regulator was all set to launch its ‘verified milk vendors’ initiative to ensure that individual milk providers in cities and towns are certified by FSSAI and they mandatorily carry lactometers so that their patrons can on demand check the quality of milk being sold to them. The pilot of the nationwide rollout will be launched in Amritsar, followed by Ahmedabad.

Going forward, the lactometers will be embedded with digital technology for real-time transmission of data to a central web repository. “Innovative solutions are required when you are dealing with the informal sector,” Agarwal said. Mentioning a similar initiative in the street food space, Agarwal said it started with one safe street food hub in Ahmedabad, but in one year the number has risen to 20. “It is still too little. We need hundreds of these,” Agarwal added.

FOOD SMART CITIES: A BACKGROUNDER

Food Smart Cities, can drive India’s progress towards a circular food economy, where all food consumed will be locally and seasonally grown; where  the existing ‘take-make-dispose’ system of production will make way for one founded on the principles of sustainable development, which will both create new jobs and ensure good health and dignity for all citizens; and where farmers will be reintegrated into the urban ecosystem.

Even as the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, accelerates the 100 Smart Cities Project, the most ambitious state-led urban renewal intervention in Independent India, the importance of these urban centres being ‘Food Smart’ as well cannot be under-emphasised. Experts predict that by 2050, cities will consume 60 per cent more food than the current levels. Smart cities therefore must:

  • Encourage fair trade and inclusive growth by designating multiple areas for organic farmers’ markets so that farmers engaging in chemical-free agriculture can sidestep middlemen and get just returns for their labour, and the citizens are assured of an equitable access to healthy, safe, culturally appropriate and sustainably produced food.
  • Maintain an efficient cold chain to prevent primary food waste, which is a severe problem in India: 30 per cent of all grains, vegetables and fruit produced in the country becomes unfit for consumption because of a poor transport infrastructure and the absence of a viable cold chain.
  • Have robust support systems in place to promote urban agriculture on rooftops and in school backyards to increase the availability of sustainably produced food.
  • Develop systems and technologies for the conversion of food waste to commercially viable yet clean electricity, biodiesel, organic fertilisers, cattle feed and bio-char.
  • Actively promote Indian ‘superfoods’ such as millets, amaranth and makhana (fox nuts) among citizens, starting with mid-day school meals, to ensure diversity in their diets.
  • Continually work towards three primary objectives, which are in sync with the Sustainable  Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations: reducing the impact of climate change; de-stressing dwindling water supplies; and contributing to the uplift of smallholder farmers
  • Continually work towards three primary objectives, which are in sync with the Sustainable  Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations: reducing the impact of climate change; de-stressing dwindling water supplies; and contributing to the uplift of smallholder farmers

ABOUT TASTING INDIA SYMPOSIUM

Launched in 2017 by much-published food writer Sourish Bhattacharyya and Stockholm-based Brand India evangelist Sanjoo Malhotra, Tasting India symposium is a global food advocacy dialogue that brings together farmers, hospitality and tourism industries, food tech startups, policy-makers, civil society and media to discuss and debate India’s gastronomic heritage and culinary tourism potential, sustainable food future innovations, the impact of climate change on food production, better cold chain management, and the blueprint for food smart cities.

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