Govt launches repository of diverse crops across 128 agro-climatic zones

New Delhi, Nov 18 (PTI) A repository of diverse crops across 128 agro-climatic zones in India was launched on Monday by the Women and Child Development Ministry to provide insights on traditional crop varieties and promote dietary diversity.

Union WCD minister Smriti Zubin Irani along with Bill Gates, co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, launched the Bharatiya Poshan Krishi Kosh (BPKK) here.

Gates said that if there was one thing that the Foundation would like to solve in India, it is the problem of malnutrition among women, expectant mothers and children.

'Solving this problem will bring about a dramatic change in the development of India and help the country to attain the SDGs,' he said.

Irani said the Poshan Bharat Kosh will be vital in giving thrust to efforts towards tackling the challenge of protein and micro-nutrient hunger.

The BPKK will be the repository of diverse crops across 128 agro-climatic zones in India for better nutritional outcomes. It will provide insights on traditional crop varieties and encourage people in a particular region to promote dietary diversity, Irani said.

She said that for India to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is now time to bring together the science of implementation with the science of communication so that nutrition is on the political and administrative agenda along with hygiene and clean drinking water.

At the launch, WCD Secretary Rabindra Panwar handed over the letter of intent to Hari Menon, Director, India Country Office, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Eminent agricultural scientist M S Swaminathan highlighted the need to implement a five-point action programme to make India nutrition secure.

The five-point action programme includes ensuring calorie rich diet for women, expectant mothers and children.

He also stressed on the need to eradicate hidden hunger due to deficiency of micro nutrients like vitamin A and B, Iron and Zinc and to ensure clean drinking water supply.

Swaminathan further said that lack of proper nutrition among children affects not only their physical development but also brain development.

He urged the Ministry of WCD to create a band of community hunger fighters who will be trained to deal with hunger among women, expectant mothers and children by following this five-point action programme, the statement said.

Before the launch of the Bharatiya Poshan Krishi Kosh, Irani held a meeting with Gates on India's fight against malnutrition. PTI UZM TDS DPB