Protein-rich rice developed Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalay, may help check malnourishment

A protein-enriched rice variety has been developed by the Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalay (IGKV) and researchers hope it would serve as a boon for malnourished population, especially children, in the tribal-dominated Chhattisgarh.
“Our researchers worked for seven years to develop the variety of rice that is rich in protein along with high zinc content,”said Dr Girish Chandel, Professor in Department of Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, IGKV.
Protein-rich rice developed Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalay, may help check malnourishment
“The rice variety will play a crucial role in fighting protein deficiencies,” claimed Chandel, who led the research.
“Since rice is the staple food of the state and consumed on a regular basis, the research focused on enhancing its micro-nutrients and protein contents. For majority of the people who do not eat meat products or can’t afford pulses, rice could be a good source of proteins,” he said.
“Our present varieties of rice are not rich in protein content as it is mainly having carbohydrates, so we are developing zinc-rich rice varieties along with rich protein content,” he informed.
The new developed rice variety has over 10 per cent protein content, which is three per cent more than what is found in any popular variety and has30 PPM zinc content, Chandel said.
As per a survey last year, very high rate of malnutrition was found among preschool children in tribal areas showing conditions like being underweight and stunted growth, which indicates a critical situation, he said.
Over five lakh childrenin the state are underweight, with tribal districts like Bastar, Dantewada, Kondagaon and Narayanpur having a comparatively higher rate of malnourishment then other districts.
However, the government has been making several efforts with schemes like ‘Vazan Tyohar’ (weight festival) and nutritious meal week to overcome the malnutrition menace.
The Women and Child Development Department last month informed that malnutrition rate inChhattisgarhhas declined to 29.8 per cent from 47.1 per cent registered in the National Family Health Survey 2005-06 (weight-based), Chandel said.
He saidthe new rice variety’s high nutritional content will be helpful in government’s efforts to eradicate malnutrition in the state.
“It (rice variety) will be sentto the state’s variety identification committee within six months for final release following which it is likely to be ready for cultivation next year,” he said.
Hailing the efforts of IGKV, a nutrition expert in the state said researches should be undertaken to improve the protein quality in several other foods, besides rice.
“Every year a new variety (rice) is identified. For research purpose, the development is good. But the important thing is when it will arrive in the market on a large scale so that people could take its advantage,” nutritionist Dr Aruna Palta said.
Besides, quality is more important as compared to quantity. Hence, the focus should be on improving the quality of protein rather just quantity, she said.
The way scientists have developed high protein rice, researches should also be done to improve the protein quality in other food items like pulses and wheat which are also key components of Indian meal, she added.