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High malnutrition: Continue, expand Odisha's Nutrition at Doorsteps scheme, urge NGOs

By Our Representative 

The Nutrition at Doorstep scheme, initiated by the Odisha government, has successfully promoted food security and addressed malnutrition in rural households, a recent survey by the Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha and the Mahila Shramajeebee Mancha in 650 villages of Kandhamal district has revealed.
The study finds that 96% of households used vegetable seeds provided by the government to grow nutritional kitchen gardens. There is growing demand in communities to receive this support. Therefore, according to the study, its members have urged the government to carry on with this programme, especially in tribal-populated districts, to effectively address malnutrition and anemia in the state.
"It's great to hear that the government has taken steps to address malnutrition by providing fruit and vegetable saplings as well as a vegetable mini-kit to 8 lakh identified malnourished families last year. The government has also shown a commitment to nutrition in the latest Nutrition Budget 2023-24, increasing the share of the Nutrition Budget in the total annual expenditure from 19.31% in 2020-21 to 23.03% in 2023-24”, the study states.
However, Anjan Pradhan, convener of Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha, says, this scheme must be expanded to at least 15 lakh households, as it has successfully promoted food security and addressed malnutrition in rural households. According to him, the government should increase the number of seeds in the kit and provide separate winter-season vegetable seeds by May month so that households can grow them before the rain season approaches.
Meanwhile, a delegation of civil society organisations (CSOs) has submitted a memorandum to the Agriculture and Farmers' Empowerment Minister, Ranendra Pratap Swain, urging the renewal of this programme.
Says a state government report, children in 4,93,941 households are suffering from stunted growth, 1,31,099 with wasted development, 2,69,784 underweight children, and 4,53,883 anemic pregnant women as of last year. “It highlights the urgent need to continue and expand the 'Nutrition at Doorstep' scheme to promote food security and tackle malnutrition in Odisha”, believes the study.

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