| A woman with her malnourished child in Nagaon. File picture |
Nagaon Aug. 10: Dispur plans to start cultivation of nutritional crop on 8,800 hectares in three districts of Assam to tackle malnutrition.
The three districts where the centrally sponsored project, Nutri Farm, will be implemented are Nagaon, Golaghat and Karimganj. These districts have registered the maximum malnutrition in the state.
The agriculture department will distribute select varieties of paddy and maize seeds to farmers in these districts and buy back the crop through government agencies. These crops will be given value addition, by adding items like pulses and sugar, under the supervision of nutritional experts and then sent to schools in the three districts for midday meal with the help of the line department.
The government plans to implement the project from the next paddy season in summer.
Paddy is targeted to be cultivated in 5,550 hectares — 2,350 hectares in Nagaon, 1,800 hectares in Karimganj and 1,400 hectares in Golaghat. Maize will be cultivated on 1,400 hectares in Golaghat, 1,000 hectares in Karimganj and 850 hectares in Nagaon.
“This is a pilot project for which New Delhi is going to provide Rs 5.7 crore as assistance. We will use two rice varieties, MTU 1010 and Kanaklata, for their rich protein and zinc content. The two maize varieties selected are HQPM-I and HQPM-5 for their high lysine and tryptophan content,” the assistant director of the agriculture department, Manik Gogoi, said.
“The home science department of Jorhat Agriculture University has been entrusted with the task of value addition to the crops,” he added.
Gogoi is one of the five members of the recently formed monitoring committee of the Nutri Farm pilot project. Nagaon deputy commissioner P. Ashok Babu laid stress on gaining maximum benefit from the project to reduce the district’s alarming malnutrition graph.
He said value addition would ensure that the students get a richer midday meal and the administration would try to cut down on wastage by releasing food according to the number of students in a school. A senior consultant of the agriculture department, Arunima Deb Chaudhury, said farmers would be given seeds, fertilisers and other materials worth Rs 4,550 per hectare.
The Assam Small Farmers’ Agri-Business Consortium will prepare a buy-back policy so that farmers can sell their products immediately after harvesting at a price fixed by the monitoring committee.
“Storehouses will be arranged in the district headquarters and manpower for grinding and other value addition work (according to the university’s suggestion) will be used locally,” Deb Chaudhury said.