Curbing malnutrition and transforming farmer livelihoods in Madya Pradesh

This September, Solidaridad helped launch Good Farming – Good Food, a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to support 50,000 farmers in Madya Pradesh, India as they build urgently needed nutrition security. Solidaridad Network’s Honorary President, Nico Roozen, attended the event in India and pointed out the key role new approaches to agriculture can play in curbing malnutrition and transforming livelihoods.

Madya Pradesh, also known as India’s ‘soya basket’, is facing large scale malnutrition, mostly affecting rural women and children. 

Madya Pradesh in India faces an urgent and horrible paradox: malnutrition. It is urgent because it is holding back the social and economic development of the huge state (population 73 million+). And it is paradoxical because Madya Pradesh is also known as India’s ‘soya basket’. It is the country’s main grower of soya beans and its fourth biggest supplier of vegetables. But it is also one of India’s few food-insecure states, a situation affecting rural women and children most of all.

How to transform farmer livelihoods

Good Farming – Good Food, a new Public Private Partnership was launched in September 2019 to help farming communities achieve better nutritional outcomes. The programme’s specific goals are:

  • Enhance farmer resilience
  • Improve farm productivity
  • Encourage crop diversification
  • Educate families about healthy diets
  • Integrate soya products into government nutrition programmes

Speaking at the event to launch Good Farming – Good Food, Dr Nico Roozen, Honorary President of Solidaridad Network, said,

Leveraging agriculture for nutrition security has the potential to curb malnutrition and transform the livelihood of farmers in Madhya Pradesh.”

Nico Roozen, Solidaridad Network’s Honorary President, at the launch of the Good Farming – Good Food programme in Madya Pradesh, India

Sharing knowledge

The programme is designed to reach 50,000 Madya Pradesh farmers and their families. It will encourage farmers to share best practices with each other, especially in crop diversification and better market access. This will make them more resilient and increase the availability of vegetables to local people.

Network of female entrepreneurs

At the same time, the programme seeks to stimulate female entrepreneurship by setting up a so-called ‘nutri-sakhi’ network: women will be trained to deliver information about healthy foods to rural communities. The focus will be on soya as it is protein-rich, affordable and widely available. For the same reason, soya will be incorporated in state nutrition programmes like the Mid-day Meal Scheme, which provides school-age children with a healthy lunch.

Good Farming – Good Food programme partners and participants at the launch in September 2019

Programme partners include Dutch government, local business

The 3.5 million Euro project is jointly funded by the Dutch government, Samarth Kisan Producer Company, leading Indian soya business Vippy Industries, and Dutch multinational East-West Seed, recently ranked number one in the Access to Seeds index. India’s Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering is its knowledge partner.

Delivering on UN Sustainable Development Goals

The programme will deliver on a range of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). These include SDG 2 for ending hunger, of course, but also SDG 5 for gender equality; SDG 12 for responsible consumption and production, SDG 13 for climate action and SDG 17 for strong partnerships to achieve the goals.

Mr Siebe Schuur, Agriculture Counsellor to the Netherlands Embassy in India, said,

Our government is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and we want to work with India towards these targets. The Good Farming – Good Food project is an excellent example of the kind of partnership India and the Netherlands can successfully work on together.”