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Pilot project for children to reduce the micro-nutrient deficiencies

Pilot project for children to reduce the micro-nutrient deficiencies

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Dharmshala: District Administration Kangra in collaboration with the CSIR-IHBT, Palampur is starting an innovative pilot project under the POSHAN Mission to reduce the micro-nutrient deficiencies in children in the age group of 3 to 6 years who are attending Anganwari Centres in the District. The project proposal has been formulated by Dr. Vidyashankar Srivatsan, Scientist, CSIR-IHBT, Ms. Rashi Singh, District Lead, India Nutrition Mission, Tata Trusts and Mr. Raghav Sharma, IAS, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Kangra. The State Government is providing supplementary nutrition to the children attending the Anganwari Centers in the form of nutrimix, biscuits, sweet rice and dalia. However, the majority of nutrition of children comes through dietary items used by the families. The rationale of the project is that generally the locally consumed diets contain low levels of critical micronutrients like Iron, Zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin C and therefore it is necessary to supplement the meals with micronutrients to promote growth in children. Parents also do not have awareness about micronutrients and their role in child growth.

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In order to address this problem, the pilot project will involve a survey on the nutritional quality and diet pattern of children aged between 3 to 6 years in the selected area of Panchrukhi Block of District Kangra where seven Panchayats with 20 Anganwari Centres will be covered under it. The Panchayats which are going to be covered are Barmat, Banuri, Rajpur, Parla Tanda, Panchrukhi, Holta and Tanda. Thereafter, micronutrient fortified foods will be provided to a target group of 100 children from these selected 20 Anganwari Centres and their growth will be monitored to evaluate the impact of micronutrient fortification. The distribution of ready to eat and reconstitute food products will be monitored and supervised by the Child Development Project Officer of the concerned area. These children will be also imparted with health education via practical sessions. Mothers would be involved during training sessions to ensure compliance. The project will also provide feedback on the types of food preferred by small children as per their taste preferences which can be fortified and serve the purpose of promoting their growth.

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For this project, two low-cost micronutrient fortified food formulations developed by CSIT-IHBT will be used. The first product is a multi-grain high protein mix and the other product is a spirulina peanut bar or spirulina enriched multigrain energy bar. These products are ready-to-eat and ready to re-constitute in water with very minimal cooking interventions. These products contain 15% to 20% of the RDI of micronutrients. They are 100% natural with no artificial additives or preservatives and are nutrient dense.

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The project will last for 6 months and it will help in improving the nutritional status of children between 3-6 years. The project has been approved by the State Convergence Committee under the Innovation component of POSHAN Mission with a cost of Rs. 10.60 lacs. If positive results emerge from the pilot project, it may be scaled up. POSHAN is a flagship programme of the Government of India to improve the nutritional outcomes for children and pregnant /lactating mothers.

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