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 Table of Contents  
SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year : 2023  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 81-85

Poshan Vatika (Nutri-Gardens) at Anganwadi centers—Holistic approach by Government of India towards nutritional security


Research Officer (Ayu), Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, Posted at NNRC-CPMU, POSHAN Abhiyaan Ministry of Women and Child Development, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission02-Sep-2022
Date of Acceptance17-Oct-2022
Date of Web Publication30-Dec-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Deepak Jagannath Londhe
Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, Posted at NNRC-CPMU, POSHAN Abhiyaan Ministry of Women and Child Development, New Delhi
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jdras.jdras_137_22

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  Abstract 

Traditional food systems are well-adapted to local ecological, sociocultural, and economic conditions, making them well-suited for maintaining widespread food and health security. Indian Government has taken significant steps for providing food security and combating malnutrition over the past five decades. The Government of India has launched an Integrated Nutritional Support Programme (INSP) with a focus on practices that promote health, well-being, and immunity against disease and malnutrition. Poshan Vatika (Nutri-Gardens) proposed at the Anganwadi centers under INSP is an initiative toward the eradication of malnutrition and significantly contributes toward achieving the sustainable development goals.

Keywords: Government of India, malnutrition, Nutri-Gardens, Poshan Vatika, sustainable development goals (SDGs)


How to cite this article:
Londhe DJ. Poshan Vatika (Nutri-Gardens) at Anganwadi centers—Holistic approach by Government of India towards nutritional security. J Drug Res Ayurvedic Sci 2023;8:81-5

How to cite this URL:
Londhe DJ. Poshan Vatika (Nutri-Gardens) at Anganwadi centers—Holistic approach by Government of India towards nutritional security. J Drug Res Ayurvedic Sci [serial online] 2023 [cited 2023 Jan 28];8:81-5. Available from: http://www.jdrasccras.com/text.asp?2023/8/1/81/366292




  Introduction Top


Ensuring the nutritional status of the population is a serious challenge around the world, including in the developing countries.[1] According to the joint UNICEF, WHO, and World Bank Group estimates for 2021 on the extent and trends of undernutrition among children, 149.2 million children under the age of five are stunted, 45.4 million are wasted, and 38.9 million people are overweight.[2] Over the past five decades, the Government of India has taken important steps to ensure food security and combat malnutrition through Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), the Mid-Day Meal program, and public distribution system.[3]

The National Food Security Act,[4] 2013 mandates providing of supplementary nutrition to all pregnant women, lactating mothers (up to 6 months after child birth), and all children in the age group of 6 months to 6 years (including those suffering from malnutrition).

The Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition (POSHAN Abhiyaan) launched by Indian Government in 2018 introduces a convergence platform where different ministries and departments working with common goals impacting nutrition outcomes come together to achieve synergies across all interventions to effectively target under nutrition.[5] “Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0”—An Integrated Nutrition Support Programme approved during the 15th Finance Commission period 2021–22 to 2025–26 shows governments’ priority and proclivity to consider multiple strategies to tackle the issue of malnutrition. In order to make the program more effective and with focus on developing practices that promote health, wellness, and immunity to disease and malnutrition, the Government of India is encouraging setting up of a Poshan Vatikas (Nutri-Gardens) at or near Anganwadi centers (AWC), state-owned schools wherever possible, and at Gram Panchayat lands where women and children are most likely to benefit.[6]


  Discussion Top


Anganwadi centers and services

Anganwadi is a government-sponsored village-level childcare and mothercare center in India. Anganwadi service is one of the largest and most unique government programs established by the Government of India in 1975 as a part of the ICDS scheme to combat child hunger and malnutrition, and it is one of the largest programs for early childhood care and development.[7] It is a part of India’s public health system. The beneficiaries under this scheme are children in the age group of 0–6 years, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.

The Anganwadi Service Program provides eligible beneficiaries with supplementary nutrition, nonformal preprimary education, and nutrition and health education.

Supplementary nutrition is provided to the beneficiaries through the network of 13.89 lakh AWC located across the country by providing morning snacks, hot cooked meals (HCMs), and take home ration.[8] The primary focus of the Supplementary Nutrition Programme is to bridge the gap between recommended dietary allowance and the average daily intake.


  Structure and Contents of Poshan Vatika Top


Garden for the cultivation of vegetables and medicinal herbs in the vicinity of AWC with a minimum area of 1000 square feet will be developed. Based on the nutritional contents/benefits and their traditional uses in households (HHs) as vegetable, some of the suggested plants/herbs/trees to be cultivated in Poshan Vatika include:

  • (i)Green vegetables: spinach (palak), fenugreek (Methi), Amaranthus Spr. (Choulai), asparagus (Shatawari), Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi), Boerhavia (punarnava), Chenopodium (Bathua), Dioscorea (Ratalu), etc.


  • (ii)Medicinal plants/fruit trees (five to six trees): Moringa (Sahajan), papaya (Papita), curry leaves (Karhipatta), lemon (Nimbu), Indian gooseberry (Amla), Punica (Anar), etc.


  • (iii)Boundary crops: asparagus (Shatawari), lemon grass (Nimbu Ghas), Tinospora cordifolia (Giloy), etc.


The species suggested for cultivation in Poshan Vatika are having various nutritional and therapeutic benefits as explained in [Table 1]. These species are indicative, and States/Union Territories may use different species based on the regional and seasonal use.
Table 1: Nutritional contents and therapeutic benefits of plants/herbs/trees selected for Poshan Vatika

Click here to view



  Importance of Poshan Vatikas Top


Nutrition support services are currently provided to 906.17 lakh beneficiaries by 13.14 lakh Anganwadi workers and 11.74 lakh Anganwadi helpers. Of these, 736.91 lakh are children under the age of 6, and 169.26 lakh are pregnant women and lactating mothers.[8]

A lack of resources is one of the important factors that affect food and nutritional security, particularly at the HH level in the rural area resulting in micronutrient deficiency, particularly in preschool children and in pregnant and lactating women. Therefore, Poshan Vatikas (Nutri-Gardens) are very much essential in isolated places and villages far from local markets. Dietary diversity is as important as adequate diet and even more important than dietary adequacy in case of certain micronutrient deficiencies, particularly in the younger ages. A review suggested dietary diversification, including home gardening, as an effective strategy to improve nutrition in maternal and child under nutrition.[41] The promotions of nutrition gardens in Indian villages in the districts of Odisha and Maharashtra have shown favorable results in terms of improved diet diversity.[42]

Positive health and nutrition behavior change, improved nutrition, and food preference in children by increased consumption have been reported by various studies on school garden. Additionally, school gardens also have shown the potential to increase physical activity in children.[43]

Numerous phytochemicals found in a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables have antioxidant, antiallergic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antiproliferative properties.[44] Therefore, a myriad of col ored vegetables in the daily diet will enhance children’s ability to fight disease and improve immunity.

Establishing a Poshan Vatikas/Nutri-Garden is much easier in the Anganwadi’s in rural areas as there is ample space, and families are involved in agriculture. Growing different green vegetables, herbs/medicinal herbs round the year and using it for preparing HCM for children at AWC will ensure regular and handy supply of fresh vegetables, increase consumption of vegetables, bring health and nutrition behavior change, and have a positive effect on their health. Also, it will generate awareness among people on the importance of a balanced nutritious diet.

PoshanVatika can be positioned as a sustainable model for the following:

  • Providing food security and diet diversity to address malnutrition at the community level;


  • Bridge the gap between the available resources and its long-term use;


  • Address micronutrients deficiency-related malnutrition;


  • Introduce healthy eating practices;


  • Inculcating shared ownership, responsibility, and collaboration;


  • Supplementing staple-based diets/rations to meet the children’s requirements of essential nutrients with a significant amount of macro- and micronutrients;


  • It will help traditional food system having health, nutritional, and therapeutic benefits to revive it from disappearance;


  • PoshanVatika can be used to introduce younger generation about traditionally used but slowly vanishing vegetables/herbs with high nutritional value.



  •   Implementation Challenges Top


    Poshan Vatika development at AWC may face challenges in the implementation, mainly related to the (a) time on the part of Anganwadi worker/helper or maintenance staff as they are already “overloaded” with other duties, (b) funding amount—Poshan Vatika will require considerable amount for procurement of seeds, cultivation/maintenance cost, fencing, etc., (c) support on the part of community or parents or volunteers, and (d) availability of space for Nutri-Garden in the urban area.


      Implications for Research and Practice Top


    Nutri-Garden was, and has always been, the cornerstone of traditional farming systems, but over time, it lost its importance. Based on Ayush principles and traditional farming system, a seasonal calendar of locally available vegetables/fruits/medicinal herbs can be published for creating awareness among the people. Establishing the standard mechanism and pathways through which Poshan Vatikas could lead to health and well-being impacts among community.

    Although few studies have been conducted to assess the impact of nutri-gardening programs, there is a theoretical support for the potential of program activities to achieve their intended outcomes, either directly or indirectly. Evaluation and research in this area are important to document how this program element are implemented and integrated into the AWC. If Poshan Vatika programs are found to be effective in promoting any of the above outcomes, systematically documenting what those programs actually consisted of should be encouraged for further development and dissemination. Documenting the social conditions and processes generated by the Nutri-Garden program and linking these processes and conditions to program outcomes require an evaluation design that relies on a mixed method research. Multiple approaches to data collection (surveys, interviews, and observations) should be used to strengthen the convergent validity of the evidence on dietary effects of this program.

    Financial support and sponsorship

    Nil.

    Conflicts of interest

    There are no conflicts of interest.





     
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