Malnutrition is a persistent problem across the world. It’s no wonder then that ‘nutrition security’ has been given due importance in the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, which emphasise on zero hunger and the health and well-being of individuals. If we talk about India, malnutrition is significantly worse in tribal areas.
It’s to address these concerns that The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), a leading thinktank, recently launched a first-of-its-kind digital library, which details scientific information of approximately 200 edible plant species of the Western Ghats, home to many native tribal people. The website aims to serve as a guide to both urban and rural communities to address malnutrition issues. “This initiative needs to be replicated across Maharashtra. TERI should tie up with the department of forests to enhance the adaptation of the project methodologies,” said Sudhir Mungantiwar, minister of finance and planning, and forests departments, Maharashtra, while launching the website in Mumbai. “Information about nutrition, wild edibles, mushrooms, etc, elaborated on the website should be translated in Marathi… and video clips, booklets of information, etc, be distributed in schools across the state,” he added.
Several of the tubers, corns, fruits, mushrooms, seeds, nuts, etc, that are indigenous to the region are important for the food, medicine and chemical industries. However, a large part of the population is unaware about their significance. TERI’s digital library aims to bridge this knowledge gap.
The event, which was attended by a host of dignitaries from various fields, also had in attendance villagers, who shared their experiences on energy plantation, grey water recycling, urban farming and how TERI has helped them in practising sustainable livelihood. “TERI’s efforts have helped tribes in Palghar district successfully tackle malnutrition,” said Ajay Mathur, director general, TERI.