Written by Dinesh Balam and Edited by Kanna K Siripurapu, RRA Network | July 16, 2020
Department of Women Development and Child Welfare (WD&CW Dept.) of Telangana is preparing a road map for inclusion of millets in Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) with partnership with the Ministry of Welfare of Women and Children, Government of India. In addition, It has also proposed piloting a decentralised Production procurement and processing in 3 Aspirational Districts to Niti Aayog as an innovative pilot project.
There are 35,700 Anganwadi Centers (31,711 Main Centers and 3989 Mini Centers), functioning in the State in 149 ICDS Projects. The Dept. of WD&CW, Telangana, has been providing a package of services comprising supplementary nutrition, immunization, health check-up, and referral services, preschool non-formal education, under the ICDS scheme.
While the implementation of the ICDS scheme has resulted in improvement of the nutritional status of women and children in the State but the desired goals are yet to be realized. The percentage of babies born with low birth weight, underweight children (<3 years), and prevalence of anemia among the pregnant women is still high. Further, reduction of the infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR) remains a challenge.
- Although the number of stunted and underweight children of the state is slightly lower than the national average but achievement of the target of reduction of malnutrition identified nationally under the Poshan Abhiyaan and globally under the SDGs and the WHO targets, still remains unfulfilled.
- The prevalence of anemia among children and women (about 60%) of the state is an indication of suboptimal intake of dietary iron.
(Source : NFHS-4)
Jowar – The Erstwhile Staple Diet of Telangana
Sorghum (Jowar) used to be the staple diet of people of Telangana. During the past few decades, the consumption of Jowar has declined considerably due to the provision of subsidized rice in the government food security schemes, support for commercial crops of cotton and maize corn, and neglect of Jowar production.
Compared to rice, Jowar has 4 times more iron and 1.5 times more protein. It has a better micro-nutrient profile compared to rice. In this context, Ms. Divya Devarajan, IAS, Special Secretary cum Commissioner, WD&CW Department, Telangana is considering the inclusion of millets in the ICDS as a pilot in few districts.
As Telangana state is not yet procuring millets, WD&CW Dept. has applied to the Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India for allocation of 355 MT of Jowar and 607 MT of Bajra per quarter through the Food Corporation of India (FCI).
In this context, WD&CW Dept has invited WASSAN and the working group on millets of the RRA Network as resource agencies to support the WD&CW Dept., Telangana in this endeavour. Key responsibilities of the resources agencies are coordination with different stakeholders (NIN, IIMR, etc) to design a road map, development of the operational modalities, building capacities of the departmental staff for successful inclusion of millets in ICDS.
Ms. Bhagyalaxmi* from WASSAN (Watershed Support Services and Activities Network) will be the nodal person for this coordination.
Partnership with Niti Aayog
One of the key concerns that emerged during the discussion with Niti Aayog was that millets are sourced from the FCI. If millets can be procured directly from farmers and processed locally, it would not only benefit the farmers financially but also diversify the production systems of Telangana. As this has never been done before, there is a need to establish the proof of concept. A successful experiment could allay the concerns related to quality management, storage and processing related issues.
In order to establish the proof of concept, the WD&CW Department has proposed to Niti Aayog to pilot a decentralized production, processing and procurement initiative in 3 Aspirational districts of Telangana, in collaboration with WASSAN, and WGoM of the RRA Network.
In the decentralized model, locally produced millets will be procured and processed through the local SHGs / FPOs and supplied to the Anganwadis to serve children and pregnant mothers. Recipes will be developed locally in a participatory manner.
If approved by Niti Aayog, this will help in generating experience within system. If successful, then learnings from these pilots can be scaled up across the state in a phased manner.
* Email: firstname.lastname@example.org