Moringa: Poor Man's Crop And Rich Man's Food -

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March 24, 2017 3:40 pm


Published on February 2, 2017 at 4:30 am

Moringa: Poor Man’s Crop And Rich Man’s Food


Moringa is widely known as a poor man’s crop and rich man’s food. Noted development practitioner, Basanta Kumar Kar, explained the leafy moringa, or the drumstick tree as an important means to fight nutrient deficiency when there occurs a climate change. He terms it as a naturally-occurring bio-fortified crop which is best suited to India’s climatic conditions. Moringa is included in the collection of such nutrient-enriched produce such as sweet potatoes, minor millets, oranges, Amla and others which are other solutions to resist micronutrient deficiency in the climate change scenario. Kar opines that genetically modified foods are not sustainable answers.
Kar is a senior advisor at The Coalition for Food and Nutrition Security (India) and also a 2016 Global Transform Nutrition Champion for South Asia. He relies on a food-based approach and sustainable climate-smart agriculture to handle problems of malnutrition which is triggered by climate change. This involves bringing out a necessary and comprehensive food fortification management with a focus on bio-fortification. It is a process by which the nutritional quality of the food crops is developed naturally through conventional plant breeding, agronomic practices, or modern biotechnology. Kar says that they are fighting with the government to bring out a complete food fortification regulation with stress and focus on bio-fortification.
Bio-fortification is different from the conventional fortification. In the former, it aims to boost nutrient levels in crops during the plant growth rather than through manual means during their processing. They are urging the government to set a bio-safety authority, map the flora and fauna and thus promote information regarding nutrition-rich crops and species. You cannot call a Genetically modified food a sustainable solution for the future. There are naturally enriched species and crops which contain all the nutrients that we require. However, we often ignore them. Moringa, which is described as ‘miracle tree’, is known for its medicinal properties in India. Kar says that it could make a big leap in that direction, in the country where the nutrition scenario for children remains flat.
According to UNICEF data, Mineral and Vitamin deficiencies are extremely prevalent throughout the developing world, and around 90 percent of the developing world’s chronically undernourished children live in Africa and Asia. In India, 18 per cent of children who are under the age of five years suffers from wasting due to severe under-nutrition.
Kar stressed that moringa which is a power food and other naturally enriched nutritious species, and crops are essential in tackling the problems of micronutrient deficiency and food insecurity without harming the ecology especially with the climate change serving as a hunger risk multiplier in Asia. Moringa is rich in micronutrients, vitamins and minerals and accustomed to the local climatic condition. It is also drought resistant and requires only less water for its cultivation. Kar has also been associated with many successful nutrition initiatives in South Asia (especially in India and Bangladesh). Kar and his colleagues were helpful in pushing for a combination of nutrition in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. Before this, in 2013, he also served with stakeholders to promote the Fortification in Edible Oil with Vitamin A Bill, 2013, that the Bangladesh parliament announced.Kar highlighted the big picture connecting climate change, nutrition and food security. He stated that India needed a ‘nutrition revolution’ to transform the country into one without malnutrition. He explained that from their own studies, they have proved the depletion of micronutrient levels in the soil and eventually leading to the lowering of micronutrient levels in food crops, due to flood and saline inundation and climate change.