Learning about nutrition helps prevent anemia

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

In a village called Borgaon Gondi in Wardha, Maharashtra, almost half the female population is anaemic. The residents aren’t poor nor do they lack access to food. However, because they have no clue about proper nutrition and what their bodies need in order to be healthy, they face weakness and fatigue brought on by anemia. Discrimination against women and children, in the form of not prioritizing their needs, also plays role. This is a situation that is all too common in India.

According to Times of India, the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), based in Chennai, has been working to change this for the past 8-10 years. MSSRF claims that in two years, women and children in Borgaon, as well as four other villages where the foundation is active, will have normal haemoglobin levels. The foundation hopes that the villagers will also be better aware of nutrition requirements.

The foundation promotes strategies for economic growth and sustainable social and environmental development. MSSRF provided free seeds and saplings to the farmers in the villages for individual as well as community gardens and general agriculture. It also educates the people on agriculture and nutrition. One 47-year old woman in the village said, “I don’t understand what anaemic means but I am happy that they say eating fresh leafy vegetables will not make us feel as weak as we would earlier.”

A community garden has also been set up in the village to provide work for women in the area. So in addition to their own crop, they also supplement their diet with fruits and vegetables from the shared area.

“The concept of vegetable cultivation is not new, but we never knew what vegetables should be grown and their importance. With MSSRF intervention we are more aware now. We produced enough to sell some of it and have some money for the women,” said Kalpana Madavi, another woman associated with the project.

While actions such as these are worth praising , the question is how scalable are the efforts? Moreover, the pace of change seems unnecessarily slow. Couldn’t the women have taken iron supplements to fight anemia while building up their gardens? Perhaps the ToI reporter would have asked more questions if the trip hadn’t been organized by MSSRF.

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