- Women from self-help groups will run nutrition units in Uttar Pradesh
- Nutrition production units with be set-up at Bighapur block and Malva block
- Fortified take home ration will be manufactured and supplied from these uni
New Delhi: On Tuesday (September 8), the Uttar Pradesh State Rural Livelihood Mission (UPSRLM) inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to set-up nutrition production units to support food distribution under the government’s Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme. The ICDS scheme targets children under 6 years of age and pregnant and lactating women. Through the scheme, take home ration (THR) of micronutrient fortified blended food or energy dense food is distributed to children between 6-36 months of age and to pregnant, lactating women for consumption at home. In simple terms, micronutrient fortified blended food is staple food with additional minerals and vitamins added to it during the production stage.
The principle behind providing take home ration is to fill in the nutrition gap and improve Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices among infants and young children. The take home ration in effect is actually a food source for complementary feeding of young children across the country. As part of take home ration, products (ready to eat and ready to cook food), dry rations and hot cooked meals are provided.
Together, UPSRLM and WFP will manufacture and supply take home ration. The nutrition production units will also provide cooked food like Dalia mix, Khichdi mix to children (3 to 6 years of age) at anganwadi centres.
Talking about the project and the reason behind partnering with WFP, Manoj Kumar Singh, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh, said,
The Government of Uttar Pradesh is very pleased to partner with WFP over this innovative project. WFP has the proven expertise in this area with long and diverse experience of setting up such take-home ration production units in other states in the country.
Explaining the project, an official from WFP told NDTV,
Till now, Uttar Pradesh has been following a centralised model for the production of take home ration. Usually, tender is given, mostly private companies who then produce and distribute ration. Now, the government is moving to a decentralised model which basically means involving women from self-help groups (SHGs). They will be provided machinery, equipped with raw materials such as wheat and will be asked to produce and distribute take home ration. For them, it is a livelihood generation and gender empowerment opportunity.
As part of the partnership, 204 nutrition production units will be set-up across 18 districts of Uttar Pradesh benefitting around 33 lakh children, pregnant women, lactating mothers and adolescent girls.
To begin with, WFP will establish two block level production units; one each in Bighapur block, Unnao and Malva block, Fatehpur. The two units will work as demonstration sites for the state government who will learn and gradually scale up the project to other 16 districts. WFP plans to begin production at the specified units by mid-November.
Elaborating more on the role of WFP and women from SHGs, the official said,
During scale-up, WFP will extend technical support to the government and provide guidance during product composition, quality assurance, packaging, and other processes. As far as women are concerned, these units will eventually belong to them. They will learn, run these units, take profits out of it and hold full ownership.
Further talking about the items that will be included in take home ration, WFP informed that the menu is yet to be finalised. A couple of food compositions involving both sweet and savoury items have been shared with the state government for approval. Fortified and nutritious food products have been designed keeping in mind the nutritional requirement of different age groups.
This partnership with the State Rural Livelihood Mission will go a long way in ensuring nutrition security as well as empowering rural women. Enhancing nutrition in children not only strengthen communities but also secure them a brighter future, said Bishow Parajuli, WFP Representative and Country Director in India.
Basanta Kumar Kar, Recipient of Global Nutrition Leadership Award lauded the partnership. Sharing his views on the project and how it can be implemented well, Mr Kar said,
For many poor and marginalised people take home ration is a full meal. The take home ration provides a tremendous opportunity to transform nutrition landscape, realise the goals of POSHAN Abhiyaan. Take home ration should be enriched with essential micronutrients based on the deficiencies found through the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS)-2016-18. Also, the impact of the intervention should be measured on a regular basis through an active partnership with the Government of Uttar Pradesh. For better transparency and public accountability, I would suggest the introduction of Social Audit and monitoring by the local Vigilance Committees as per the provisions of the National Food Security Act of 2013.
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