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Integrating food and nutrition security

Integrating food and nutrition security

POSHANN project is striving to improve health and nutrition outcomes among the most vulnerable populations in Jharkhand

Published on January 26, 2021 at 3:49 am

Updated on January 28, 2021 at 10:42 am

A lush green agro horti model in Giridih, Jharkhand. (Image by AVF)

POSHANN is a multi-stakeholder initiative towards integration of nutrition, agriculture and WASH intervention for improved food and nutrition security in backward districts of Jharkhand, India. The POSHANN programme is directly linked to SDG 2 ‘End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’. The programme can also be linked to SDG1, SDG3, SDG5, SDG6, SDG11 and SDG12.

The programme strives to improve food and nutrition security, and health of women and children from vulnerable and food-insecure families. It also aims at improved government extension services towards better integration of agriculture, nutrition and WASH for achieving sustainable nutritional outcomes.

Implementation & Challenges: Welthungerhilfe’s POSHANN project, supported by The Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), is being implemented by Abhivyakti Foundation (AVF), Center for World Solidarity (CWS) and PRAVAH across 162 remote villages of Jharkhand. It aims to reach out to 9,000 households, at least 7,000 malnourished children and 15,000 women in the reproductive age group of 15-49 years, and 1,000 small and marginal farmers, across the selected villages of Giridih, Deoghar and East Singhbhum districts of the state.

Under the project, initiatives are undertaken to ensure food and nutrition security for vulnerable communities through implementation of nutrition-sensitive integrated farming systems, and consumption and conservation of locally available uncultivated foods. The interventions focus on agricultural systems which integrate crops, horticulture, agroforestry and livestock into an interactive relationship with each other where the wastes from one operation or subsystem are used as inputs for other subsystems, with the objective of reducing risks and use of less external inputs, for improving soil fertility. In the present times, adverse climatic conditions and erratic rainfalls are great limitation for the small and marginal farmers to execute their farm operation plan like sowing, irrigation, harvesting etc. and it critically affects food and livelihood security of these vulnerable families. In such a scenario, integrated farming systems executed under the POSHANN programme helps poor farmers with very small land holdings for crop production with diversified farm production, increased cash income, improved quality and quantity of produces and also quality improvement in the nutritional status of the family through exploitation of unutilized resources.

The farmers in these selected areas are now practicing agro ecological farming, which is free of chemicals and pesticide and are climate resilient. More than 1000 farmers have adopted and are practicing such ecofriendly farming systems.

A vermi compost unit developed with the inputs and support provided under the POSHANN project in Deoghar. (Image by PRAVAH)

Impact: Under the POSHANN project in Giridih, almost 72.4% families adopted nutrition gardens and are now cultivating a variety of nutritious fruits and vegetables in their homestead gardens, thereby improving food diversity at household level and accessing adequate micronutrient. The dietary diversity of vulnerable families is also increasing gradually. Diversified integrated farming system helped 64.1% poor and marginal farmers.

In Deoghar, 97.2% of the targeted communities under the project now cultivate a variety of vegetables in their kitchen gardens ensuring diversity in their diet. 69.3% of the families own composting units where they reuse agriculture waste and kitchen waste to create natural compost fertilizer for their field.

In East Singhbhum district, 430 potential farmers have adopted nutrition-sensitive integrated farming systems (NSIFS) models in which more than four subsystems are in regular flow. Recycling and reuse of agricultural waste is gradually improving in the field.

During the project period, the participation of women increased substantially. Women participation in decision making for agricultural operations also increased visibly. Communities have also developed an understanding about the inter linkages of agriculture and natural resource management towards nutrition security. Women became aware of the importance of various types of food. People also learnt how to enrich their food plate their own homestead production.

Besides this, hygiene condition has improved considerably with the targeted families, reflecting an improved health status of malnourished children.

A session to create awareness on natural organic farming amongst the communities underway in Deoghar. (Image by PRAVAH)

Collaboration: The POSHANN programme has ensured convergence with the Jharkhand government’s ongoing programme though active collaboration with the Agriculture Department, Fishery Department and Animal Husbandry Department, ATMA and key government flagship programmes such as MGNREGA, NRLM have led to an improvement in better utilization of the resources. The programme partners are also closely working Jharkhand State Livelihoods Promotion Society (JSLPS). The programme acts as a bridge between the communities and the government departments and ensures that the people can access their rightful benefits. The project has helped more than 1500HHs access government benefits under schemes such as Didi Bari Yojna of JSLPS and Birsa Harit Gram Yojna by MGNREGA.

CWS also formed a POSHANN Manch—a network of likeminded NGOs, CSOs, CBOs and voluntary organisations.

Monitoring Mechanism : Village-level trained cadre, trained government frontline workers and community institutions are playing an active role in monitoring the ongoing programme activities for effective utilization of resources. More than 150 ASHA workers, over 135 Anganwadi workers, 225 SHG women from JSLPS and around 85 Krishi Mitra have been trained on positive deviance nutrition camps, LANN PLA sessions, organic farming training and nutrition sensitive micro planning.

Besides the above, every three to six months, quarterly and half yearly monitoring surveys are conducted for tracking significant impacts, changes and outcomes through mobile based application-“AKVO Flow”. Also, every month, home visits and counselling are conducted for all the identified SAM and MAM children.

Azola farming model of Premchand Soren, a leading NSIFS farmer under the POSHANN project. (Image by CWS)

Replicability and Scalability: The project partners spread awareness among the communities and carry out behaviour change interventions through a network of trained volunteers. Nutrition garden model and sustainable integrated farming system are now being replicated through Didi Bari Yojana under MGNREGA flagship programme and NRLM to promote food and nutrition security in the state. Preparing NADEP compost pits, vermi compost pits, azolla pits and other compost pits has also been replicated by government through JSLPS and MGNREGA.

The trained field level workers have helped in scaling up LANN-meeting cycles and nutrition camps in 42 surrounding villages of our POSHANN project intervention areas in East Singhbhum districts. Also, the POSHANN Manch network partners are replicating nutrition camps and integrated farming systems models across 7 other districts of Jharkhand.

Reaping benefits of integrated farming

Anita Devi,wife of Jitendar Paswan, is a resident of Basmata Village, Mahuar Gram Panchayat, Giridih, Jharkhand. Anita was married off at an early age to Jitendra who is a daily wage labourer. With a negligible land holding, Anita and her family could only grow maize and potato and had to purchase most of the vegetables from the market spending most of their meagre earnings. Due to lack of agricultural knowledge, they practiced mono cropping on their land during rainy and winter seasons, and purchased agricultural inputs from the market.

Under the POSHANN Project, Jitendar Paswan received training on nutrition sensitive integrated farming system and adopted diversified farming system in a scientific way. Anita Devi and her husband started growing their own homestead nutrition garden, and agro-horti model. She also started duck rearing and established compost and azola units in their farm. Currently, she grows different types of vegetables throughout the year and regularly harvests and consumes fresh, clean and nutrition-rich vegetables and fruits. The family is also able to sell the surplus production in the local market thereby increasing their income.

Anita Devi in her homestead nutrition garden showcasing the agro-horti model (Image by AVF).

Sustainable communities have their deeper roots in food and nutrition security. As the world is facing the stark and widening divide in terms of hunger and malnutrition, role of the civil society organisations has become very crucial in facilitating the equitable change process to eliminate this gap and strengthen the foundation of sustainable communities. Abhivyakti Foundation, as a Sustainability Champion aims to ensure sustainable solutions for food and nutrition security for disadvantaged communities in Jharkhand through field pilots, engagement and multi-stakeholders collaboration, and thereby address the issues of dietary diversity, strengthening of diversified local food production systems, community-based education on nutrition, infant and young child feeding, WASH and increased women’s participation in decision making on informed choices. Our innovations like nutrition-sensitive microplanning, rice parboiling system, nutri-garden models and agri-wash models are part of this journey to create nutrition smart villages and achieve the sustainable development goals.”

Krishna Kant
Secretary, Abhivyakti Foundation

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