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Nutrition Smart Villages

Traditionally, the word ‘smart’ means intelligence, and acumen and even refers to someone who’s dressed neatly! In today’s scenario, the word ‘smart’ has become associated with technology. NetLingo tells us that the word ‘SMART’ is an acronym for Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology. Among many other things ‘smart tech’ encompasses the internet of things, and connected devices.
Speaking of connectedness, it is rather interesting to note that ‘smart’ has also been harnessed to help people connect to combat malnutrition. Here’s how:

Starting at the beginning

In 2017, NITI Aayog released a study on nutrition. This report, titled ‘National Nutrition Strategy’ helped create a scheme called POSHAN Abhiyaan, a national nutrition mission that is aimed at bettering nutrition for children and lactating mothers:

  • By galvanising people against malnutrition
  • Using technology to improve monitoring of women & children
  • Fostering inter-sector collaboration for more effective services and
  • Providing extensive nutrition related services for the first 1000 days

One of the keystones of POSHAN Abhiyan is the implementation of Nutrition Smart Villages.

Nutrition Smart Villages
This program aims at bringing together 75 villages through the network of the All India Coordinated Research Project on Women in Agriculture or AICRP-WIA. The AICRP functions in 12 states. The plan also envisages bringing together different kinds of experts to adopt & transform these 75 villages. Experts from the fields of academics, agricultural science can come together to implement & grow this program.

These Nutrition Smart Villages will be adopted by the AICRP centres to promote better agricultural practices. This will result in higher nutritional awareness and reduction in nutrition related issues such as anaemia and stunting in children.

It’s also significant to note that these villages will be ‘built up’ with traditional knowledge and by involving women farmers too. The concept of nutri-garden relies on growing specific nutritional crops. By looking at traditional recipes, the scheme also will implement traditional knowledge to promote homestead agriculture.

The multi-sector approach
Nutrition Smart Village is a concept based on a multi-sector solution. The village becomes more informed when it comes to using agriculture smartly to get a better understanding of nutrition. Some of these important sectors are:

  • WASH interventions - water, sanitation & hygiene
  • Linking agriculture practices with natural resources and improving infrastructure of the village
  • Bringing together bodies and institutions such as self-help groups, farmer producer organisations, government agencies, and village committees to help build an ecosystem for good agriculture practices

Nepal, Bangladesh, and India are driving the concept of Nutrition Smart Villages in a big way. At a micro-level, India’s programme also builds on nutri-thali and nutri-diet that bring even more focus on nutrition.

A bowl of fresh vegetables

Coming full circle back to the word ‘smart’ - it is important to note that knowledge and intelligence play a key role in these villages. The aim goes beyond agriculture practices. The larger aim is to build nutrition awareness. Women farmers are given information about their legal rights. Nutrition awareness campaigns and camps are also playing their part in this programme. By making behavioural changes and improving education levels, a Nutrition Smart Village is truly helping put the ‘smart’ in nutrition too.