BANGALORE: Barbados cherry, sweet lime, papaya, mango beetroot, leafy vegetables and oranges will soon be staple food for the malnourished children of Hyderabad-Karnatak region, if the state government's grand plan falls into place.
About 75 lakh saplings of plants of vitamin A and C rich fruits and vegetables will be distributed free to BPL households, small and medium farmers, schools and gram panchayats in eight districts as part of the government's plan to address the problem of malnutrition.
While Bidar, Gulbarga, Yadgir, Bellary, Koppal and Raichur are the districts covered in Hyderabad-Karnatak region,Bagalkotand Bijapur districts have been added from Mumbai-Karnataka parts under this scheme. Carrot, pumpkin, tomato, drumstick, curry leaf, chakramuni (called vitamin plant) will also be encouraged to grow.
"There is a great scope to mitigate malnutrition problem in the region by making the households, school children and the community to grow nutritive horticulture crops in their kitchen, school and community gardens. The deficiency in these vitamins results in poor physical growth, impairment in mental growth, anemia, night blindness, scurvy and other problems," M K Shankaralinge Gowda, principal secretary, horticulture department told TOI.
The region has been chosen because the rate of malnutrition among children here is much higher than the state average. Bidar has recorded 1,216 malnourished children, while Raichur has 6,089. Bellary has 5,258, Koppal 4,496, Gulbarga 4,436, Bagalkot 2,533, Yadgir 1,831 and Bijapur 3,830 children. Though Belgaum has registered highest number of children suffering from malnutrition in the state with 7,587, the district has not been included.
"Starting from 2013-14, the horticulture department plans to produce 75 lakh plants at the rate of Rs 25 lakh each year for next three years. The benefits of the scheme is that 15 lakh households will be targeted, about 50 lakh children and nursing mothers will get protective fruits and vegetables," Gowda said.
The women and child development department is already supplying eggs and milk to severely malnourished children in five districts - Gulbarga, Bidar, Raichur, Koppal, Bellary and Yadgir. 200 ml milk for two days and eggs for four days are being given in a week.
Poverty, high percentage of female illiteracy, child marriage, discrimination and diseases during birth are major causes for child malnutrition in the state.
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