New Delhi, Oct 16 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that India has been providing free ration to about 80 crore poor for the last 7 to 8 months during coronavirus pandemic, which entails a cost of around Rs 1.5 lakh crore.Modi said this after releasing a commemorative coin of Rs 75 denomination to mark the 75th anniversary of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).The Prime Minister also dedicated 17 recently developed biofortified varieties of 8 crops to the nation."India is fighting a strong battle against malnutrition during Covid crisis with the help of farmers, anganwadi workers, scientists and ASHA workers."They are the basis of the movement against malnutrition. They have made us self- reliant with godowns full of food grains and also helping to reach out to the poor."After 2014, we have changed the approach and closed all silos and started working on multidimensional aspects and strategy," the Prime Minister saidModi said that Indian government was working to give more strength to the small farmers. "The government is working to give MSP that is 1.5 times the input cost."Modi also congratulated the FAO for receiving this year's Nobel Peace Prize and thanked the agency for accepting India's proposal for declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millet.The journey of FAO in making the vulnerable classes and masses stronger, economically and nutritionally, has been unparalleled.India has rolled out an ambitious POSHAN Abhiyaan to target over 100 million people to reduce stunting, undernutrition, anaemia, and low birth weight.Malnutrition is a global problem with two billion people suffering from micronutrient deficiency. Nearly 45 per cent of deaths among children are linked to malnutrition.The 17 new biofortified varieties of 8 crops dedicated to the nation by the Prime Minister will have up to 3.0-fold increase in nutritional value.These varieties, along with other food ingredients, will transform the normal Indian thali into 'nutri-thali'. These varieties have been developed by utilising local varieties.The high-zinc rice has been developed from landraces of Assam rice collected from Garo Hills and those of finger millets from Gujarat's Dang district.ICAR has started Nutri-Sensitive Agricultural Resources and Innovations (NARI) programme for promoting family farming linking agriculture to nutrition, nutri-smart villages for enhancing nutritional security and location specific nutrition garden models are being developed and promoted by KVKs to ensure access to locally available, healthy and diversified diet with adequate macro and micronutrients.The production of bio-fortified crop varieties will be upscaled and linked with government programmes of midday meal, Anganwadi to reduce malnutrition and make India Kuposhan Mukta through naturally enriched food ingredients. This will also usher in higher income of farmers and will open new avenues of entrepreneurship development.India has had long association with the FAO, with Indian Civil Service officer Binay Ranjan Sen acting as the Director General of FAO during 1956-1967. The World Food Programme, which has won the Nobel Peace Prize 2020, was established during his term.India's proposals for the International Year of Pulses in 2016 and the International Year of Millets 2023 have also been endorsed by FAO.
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