BHOPAL: It is ironic that Madhya Pradesh, the country’s largest soybean producer, is also one of the top states in the prevalence of malnutrition among women and children. And this, while soy is a very affordable and rich source of protein, said Shatadru Chattopadhayay, Managing Director of Solidaridad Asia.

Chattopadhyay was speaking at an event at a hotel here on Wednesday to launch the “Good Farming – Good Food” project in Madhya Pradesh with the dual objective of increasing farm incomes and reducing malnutrition by encouraging people to consume soy products and vegetables.

He said the goal of the three-year program is to increase the productivity of soybeans by 30% and vegetables by 20% through the use of better agricultural techniques and the use of high-yielding seed varieties.

The project, funded by the Government of the Netherlands, will cover 30,000 farmers growing soybeans and vegetables on more than 26,000 hectares of land in the state. Jeroen Douglas, executive director of Solidaridad, said the Netherlands-based global body was founded in 1969 and works among 1.3 million farmers in 40 countries on three continents.

With funding of 3.5 million euros, the program aims to support around 50,000 vulnerable families, including rural women and schoolchildren, by providing them with access to nutritious food. The goal is also to increase the consumption of nutritious foods, especially soy products and vegetables at the farm and household level, said Douglas.

Delegates to the event | PF

The project also encourages farmers to diversify their crops and aims to help around 30,000 farmers improve their net income on the basis of crop diversification and better access to markets, which contributes to better food security and better nutritional status in terms of household consumption.

Deepila Agrahar, senior scientist at ICAR (Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering), Bhopal, said that although her organization has developed the technology for processing soybeans, organizations like Solidaridad can help farmers.

“More chickens than humans”

On the sidelines of the event, Jeroen Douglas, executive director of Solidaridad Network, Netherlands, told Free Press that his country of 70.5 million people with a relatively small land area is the second largest exporter of agricultural products. in the world after the United States. “Agriculture in the Netherlands is capital, land and technology intensive,” he said. “We have more chickens than humans,” he said. But the Dutch model cannot be replicated in India with its vast land area and relatively low-tech agriculture, he added.

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Posted on: Wednesday September 29, 2021, 8:33 PM IST

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