Agriculture

Indians are lacking in adequate intake of Phytonutrients

Agriculture Commissioner SK Malhotra says the Centre has urged the states to invest nearly 25 per cent of their agriculture/ Horticulture budget in reducing the post-harvest losses
Indians are lacking in adequate intake of Phytonutrients

In view of increasing production of horticulture especially fruits and vegetables, the government has initiated several schemes and focus is on productivity-led growth, SK Malhotra, Agriculture Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare said today.

Unveiling a report on ‘India’s Phytonutrient’ here today he said, reducing loss of fruits and vegetables, proper infrastructure with whole supply chain, market linkages are major challenges and new schemes of the government strive to address these issues.

“We are self- sufficient in fruits and vegetable and our net availability is 420 gm/ per person /per day. We are expected to produce 320 million tonnes by 2017 and present level is 280 mn tonnes. National Horticulture Mission, Unnat Krishi, Paramparagat Kishi and other schemes would encourage productivity-led growth,” said Malhotra.

Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) released a report on “India’s Phytonutrient’’ authored by Arpita Mukherjee, Souvik Dutta and Tanu M Goyal. Dr Isher Judge Ahluwalia, Chairperson, ICRIER, the Agriculture Commissioner and Rajat Kathuria, Director and Chief Executive, ICRIER unveiled the report.

According to the report, Indian consumers across all income groups are consuming less than the ‘recommended’ quantity of at least 400 grams (or five daily servings with an average serving size of 80 gm) of fruits and vegetables.

Kathuria said that there is need to identify the gaps in food supply chain infrastructure and focus policy on the creation of the right infrastructure. “Government can also help food processors by sharing information on quality, working with the private sector to have state-of-the-art product testing laboratories, etc. fruits and vegetables should be delisted from APMC so that there is no APMC cess and remove restrictions on inter-state movement of fruits and vegetables.”

Isher Judge Ahluwalia, Chairperson, ICRIER, emphasized, “We talk about food security and we don’t talk about nutrition security”

She further added on the need of nutritional security for the people who are living in cities. “Around 40 per cent of fruits and vegetables are perished and this is a major concern. If we do not have logistics, cold chain and improve our consumption behavior we will be destroyed in terms of nutritional security”. 

“In any economy if you do not have proper infrastructure for health and education, you can not achieve sustainable growth, she added.

However, Malhotra said that as per recent scientific studies, losses of fruits and vegetables have come down to nearly 18 percent. “The Centre has urged the states to invest nearly 25 per cent of their agriculture/ Horticulture budget in reducing the post-harvest losses,” he added.

Arpita Mukherjee, Professor, ICRIER and Author of the Report said that fruits and vegetables are main source of Phytonutrients which can be defined as nutrients that have been scientifically proven to provide health benefits. “ India does not have any specific regulation for nutraceuticals products and food supplements. The FSSAI has proposed a draft Food Safety and Standards (Food or Health Supplements, Nutraceuticals, Foods for Special Dietary Uses, Foods for Special Medical Purpose, Functional Foods, and Novel Food) Regulations, 2015. However, the regulation is yet to be finalized.”

ICRIER has made several recommendations which include A) The government should generate awareness about the benefits of processed fruits and vegetables. B) Availability of organic products should be improved. C) Restrictions on contract farming should be addressed to attract investments at the farm level. D) Private investments should be monitored to safeguard the interests of farmers, producers and consumers E) Government may explore the possibility of liberalising FDI in multi-brand retail and ease conditions on foreign investors to improve access to a variety of products F) Lower taxes on processed fruits and vegetables.

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