PROGRESS IN FP2: TRANSFORMING AGRI-FOOD SYSTEMS

Improving dietary diversity through introduction of Nutri-food Basket in tribal households of Adilabad, Mancherial, and Komaram Bheem-Asifabad districts of Telangana – Transitioning tribal households from nutrient-deficient diets to diverse nutritional foods

The project focuses on introducing a Nutri-food Basket among identified tribal households in Utnoor (Adilabad), Tiryani (Komaram Bheem-Asifabad) and Kazipet (Mancherial) to transition them from nutrient-deficient diets to the consumption of diverse nutritional foods.

The Nutri-food Basket comprises of a nutrient-rich Porridge mix, Upma mix/ Kichdi mix, cookies and Energy and Nutrient Dense Food (ENDF)-spread packed in 1 kg packs each. These products have been formulated using locally available ingredients to provide additional energy, protein, fat and micronutrients. The hygienically packed products are provided in ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook form.

Prior to producing the products, a baseline survey was conducted to ascertain the nutritional status of the target population — height and weight of children, Body mass index (BMI) of women and adolescent girls, and hemoglobin for all. Sensitization on nutrition and dietary diversity and training on nutrition and food safety was carried out. Product acceptability trials of the Nutri-food Basket were carried out and the products were optimized based on the feedback obtained. Two products from the basket were consumed by the recipients on alternate days. The products were supplied bimonthly for a period of 9 months.

Impacts

  • Baseline and endline surveys revealed an improvement in the overall nutritional status of the tribal beneficiary groups following the introduction of the value-added nutritious food products
  • 4800 tribals benefitted from the intervention
  • 50 tribals and Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA)/Health department staff were trained in nutrition, food processing and food safety.

Sustainable agricultural development through holistic value chain interventions and linking of groundnut farmers to markets in Wanaparthy district of Telangana

The project aims to enhance incomes of farmers by providing value addition opportunities for their produce and linking them to markets through the adoption of better cultivation practices and the supply of new seed varieties that foster technology penetration, improve productivity, enable improved access to inputs, services and increase farmer incomes, thereby strengthening sustainable agriculture-based livelihoods. The following interventions were undertaken by ICRISAT to overcome seed quality issues, target market availability, price issues and the lack of value addition interventions faced by the farmers:

  • Processing units were set up to facilitate value addition opportunities for farmers and self-help groups (SHGs)
  • A study was conducted on value addition opportunities for groundnut and an implementation plan for the economic upliftment of farmers and women SHGs.

Impacts

  • The setting up of primary and secondary groundnut processing units at Dattayyapally village led to the production of clean and graded groundnut kernels, value added products like groundnut chikki, groundnut paste and cold pressed groundnut oil.
  • After testing and trials of the production unit, ICRISAT handed over the facility to the Mahila Mandal Samaikya (MMS) which it is currently hand-holding and mentoring in the areas of production, quality standardization, food safety and operational management.
  • 700 MMS members benefitted from the intervention .
  • Each member earned ₹ 4700 per year as dividend from the business operations of the unit as a shareholder of the MMS.
  • Direct employment of 10 members of MMS, with each one of them earning around ₹10,000 per month as salary.

Accelerating value chain benefits for improved income for farmers and nutrition for consumers

The project is being implemented in four mandals of Anantapur district (Rapthadu, Atmakur, Kuderu and Dharmavaram) by the Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) of ICRISAT with support from WALMART Foundation. ICRISAT has partnered with Accion Fraterna Ecology Centre and Kisangates Agro Informatics Pvt. Ltd to improve nutrition while making farming a profitable enterprise in the drylands through:

  • Scoping studies to develop appropriate strategies
  • Setting up collection, storage and primary processing centers
  • Deploying ICT-based tools to enable decision support systems for farmers and real-time monitoring and evaluation
  • Setting up custom hiring centers and rural marketing units
  • Training programs, mentoring of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), nutrition awareness at household level.

The project will evaluate the following: implementation of improved crop practices under this model, training and capacity building programs and the awareness of nutritious food products in the target communities.

Currently, primary and secondary processing units are being set up and farmer groups are being formed. The project is expected to benefit around 5000 dryland farmers, 500 rural women and youth, improve farmers’ agricultural income directly by 10% through the adoption of quality standards and improve the nutrition of 300 rural households over the project period.

 Short-term trainings under IAFS-III (2018)

The India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) is the official platform for Africa-India relations. Recognizing the importance of capacity building in attaining socio-developmental objectives, the Government of India organizes training programs for African nationals. In 2018, AIP-ICRISAT organized the following two trainings under IAFS:

Advanced training on “Food safety and nutrition” (21 Jan – 3 Feb 2018): This was conducted to enhance knowledge and analytical skills in the area of food and agriculture; provide exposure to high-end instrumentation used in analytical laboratories; and to network with Indian agri-food processing industries. It was attended by 40 participants (20 women) from 19 African countries. Participants received reference materials to enable laboratory operations as per international standards.

Training on “Business plan preparation and operations management for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in food processing” (21 Oct – 2 Nov 2018): This was aimed at providing participants with a comprehensive understanding about crafting a business plan, articulating their thoughts and ideas to convince stakeholders to collaborate, and foster deep learning on operations management to improve production processes to amplify operational efficiencies in food processing.  The training had 25 participants (11 women) from 11 African countries.

The trainings were done through lectures by experts, exposure visits to pilot facilities, laboratories and commercial enterprises and entrepreneurs sharing their experiences.

Exposure visit-cum-study tour for tribal farmers in Telangana – Expose tribal farmers to new technologies of agriculture and allied activities

Farmers with a poor resource base have low risk bearing ability. They adopt new technologies only after they have been visually assured of its success. Bearing this in mind, ICRISAT joined hands with the Tribal Cooperative Finance Corporation Ltd (TRICOR) of the Tribal welfare department, Government of Telangana to organize exposure visit-cum-study tours for 500 tribal farmers in Telangana over a period of one year. This is being done in 6-day sessions for 20 batches, with 25 tribal farmers in each batch. The topics of focus are agriculture, horticulture & floriculture, vegetable cultivation, fisheries and dairy farming. The farmers will also learn technologies related to preserving soil fertility, drip irrigation, water conservation, marketing strategies, local farming concepts, processing and preservation. AIP-ICRISAT set up a Technical Support Cell to help in clarifying post-training doubts. Trainees have been given resource material for future reference.

Impacts

  • 318 farmers have so far benefitted from innovative cultivation practices, integrated farming, pest management, vermicomposting, farm mechanization, value addition, marketing, farm waste utilization, organic farming, poly-house crop cultivation techniques, biological pest and disease control and farm input management, helping them maximize their profits by minimizing input cost.
  • Exposure to field level demonstrations on soil testing and seed treatment.
  • Team building sessions aid in working collectively.
  • Exposure to scientists and exchange of ideas with peer farmer groups from different regions of Telangana.
  • Exposure to allied sectors of agriculture to enhance income levels.

Sustainable agricultural development through value addition and linking of tribal farmers to markets in Adilabad district of Telangana – Transitioning tribal farmers from traditional to modern agriculture

ICRISAT is committed to poverty reduction, nutritious food and better livelihoods in the dryland tropics. Illustrating its commitment, AIP-ICRISAT associated with the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), Utnoor, to enhance income levels of tribal farmers in Tiryani, Wankidi and Kerameri mandals of the erstwhile Adilabad district by providing value addition opportunities for their produce and linking them to markets through this project. The interventions have been in the form of access to seed, setting up pilot processing units for pigeonpea and sorghum, training and capacity building in crop production, handling of processing units, marketing knowhow and market linkages.

Two tons of seed of high-yielding pigeonpea (ICPH 2740 ) and 9 tons of sorghum seed (Moti, Vasudha and Revati) were distributed to 2000 and 3000 farmers, respectively. Cropping protocols, field trainings, exposure visits, continuous monitoring and support were provided by experts from ICRISAT. A Mandal Samakya office building at Wankidi mandal and an ITDA godown at Tiryani were identified to set up pilot pigeonpea processing plants. Tribal youth were given hands on experience in operating the dal mill and in sorghum processing and provided with Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to run the processing units. The dal mill and sorghum processing unit are now operational. The pigeonpea produced was tested for pesticide residues; it was found to be below the permissible limit and is thus being marketed as organic produce. The processed produce is being sold to tribal schools and hostels in the region and discussions are on with other companies.

Impacts

  • Access to good quality seed and giving up traditional varieties led to 20% more yield.
  • Processing units at Tiryani and Wankidi have employed 10 youths, including 2 women.
  • The mini dhal unit at Wankidi procured 21,800 kg of grain and processed 9700 kg with 65% machine efficiency (running 5-6 hrs/day). At Tiryani, 28,800 kg grain was procured and 15,000 kg processed with 75% machine efficiency (running 6-7 hrs/day).
  • Marketing interventions enabled the FPO to sell 1800 kg and 2100 kg of processed grain at Wankidi and Tiryani, respectively.
  • Pigeonpea farmers realized a premium price of around ₹ 80/kg instead of a farm gate price of ₹ 42/kg realized in the previous season, a 31% price increase.
  • Elimination of intermediaries from the value chain enabled farmers to move up the value chain, establish direct linkages with retail and corporate players to realize an incremental price benefit of around ₹ 40 compared to what the traditional market offers. This will enhance the entrepreneurial skills of the tribal farmers.

Nutritional and nutraceutical properties of cereal- and legume-based traditional foods from India and South Africa and their role in addressing malnutrition, hidden hunger and chronic non- communicable diseases

Under the India-South Africa joint call for proposals by the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India; the National Research Foundation, Republic of South Africa; the NutriPlus Knowledge (NPK) Program of AIP-ICRISAT and the Institute of Food and Nutritional Well-being, University of Pretoria, South Africa are working on a project to understand the nutraceutical properties of dryland cereals and legumes and their correlation to other nutritional, nutraceutical and functional traits towards developing and validating indigenous food products to address malnutrition, hidden hunger and chronic non-communicable diseases.

The project objectives are to:

  1. Generate a database of indigenous sorghum-, millet- and legume-based food
    products consumed in select target regions of India and South Africa and their claimed nutraceutical/health benefits.
  2. Profile the identified varieties of pearl millet, finger millet, sorghum, pigeonpea, chickpea, cowpea, Bambara groundnuts and other local crops used in the
    identified local food recipes for their selected nutraceutical, nutritional and functional
  3. Study the effect of cooking methods on the nutraceutical, nutritional and functional properties of these food products.
  4. Profile the standardized indigenous food products for their prebiotic
    properties and ability to sustain the growth of probiotics.
  5. Develop and commercialize standardized product prototypes as per
    industry/market requirements.

 This partnership enables ICRISAT, India, and the University of Pretoria to leverage each other’s strengths, knowledge, and experience in the areas of agriculture, nutrition, and food science and technology towards understanding, documenting and validating the indigenous knowledge on traditional foods in both countries, ultimately benefitting society and smallholder farmers in particular.

Nutritional interventions to improve dietary diversity in the tribal households of Telangana – Giri Poshana

As a Center of Excellence to support and strengthen active research in tribal development, ICRISAT recognizes the need to improve the nutrition of children, pregnant women and lactating mothers. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4 data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Government of India indicates poor nutritional status (underweight, stunting, wasting and anemia) of the Telangana population.

AIP-ICRISAT signed an MoA with the Tribal Welfare Department, Government of Telangana, to provide nutritional support to 12,000 Scheduled Tribe women (pregnant, lactating) and children below six years through Anganwadis and nutritional rehabilitation centres in ITDA districts with a focus on the aspirational districts of Komaram Bheem Asifabad, Bhadradri Kothagudem and Jayashankar Bhupalpally.

It will also provide nutrition support to 2130 children identified with sickle cell anemia / thalassemia in Ashram schools. The target group will be provided nutritious food formulations such as Multigrain meal, Jowar meal, Multigrain sweet meal, Energy bars, Nutri-cookies and Energy Bites made of millet, sorghum and pulses and other highly nutritious crops as breakfast and snacks for a year. These have been developed by NutriPlus Knowledge program (NPK) of AIP-ICRISAT.

The food formulations were tested among target beneficiaries for acceptability and were found acceptable by 95% of them. Since January 2019, ITDAs at Utnoor, Bhadrachalam and Eturunagaram have been assisting ICRISAT in the distribution of food products supplied every month over a period of 12 months. They are being provided in a combination of two, 6 days a week through Anganwadi centres and Gram Panchayat schools.

A baseline survey anthropometric measurements which includes height, weight, Body mass index (BMI), Mid Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) and haemoglobin] has been completed in the three districts.

A study on the nutritional status of school children of EMRS through a baseline survey in Odisha

A three-month study on the nutritional status of school children of Ekalavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) in Sundargharh, Kendujhar, Mayurbhanj, Jajapur, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Nuapada, Rayagada, Nabarangapur, Koraput and Malkangiri districts of Odisha is being undertaken by ICRISAT, a Centre of Excellence (CoE) on Tribal Welfare.

EMRS is a Government of India scheme for model residential schools for Indian tribals (Scheduled Tribes) in remote areas across India. The NFHS-4 survey (2015-16) by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the selected districts shows that more than 40% children under 5 are underweight and also indicates the prevalence of anemia among rural children aged between 6 and 59 months and women between 15 and 49 years.

The project will involve a baseline study on the health status of the children studying in the selected EMRS of Odisha. Data on anthropometry, haemoglobin (non-invasive) and the past medical history will be collected from students while EMRS heads/in-charges will provide data on dietary diversity, sanitation and hygiene in the schools. This will be followed by a dietary intervention targeted at the children by introducing an affordable “Nutri-food Basket” and sensitizing the population on the need to diversify their diets.

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