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Times of India
18 December 2008
By Swati Shinde & Umesh Isalkar
Pune, India

A programme developed by the Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) to curb anaemia among rural women will be implemented in 10 states across the country. The project, funded by the Department of Science and Technology, mainly focused on the diet of the women.

As part of the project, the women in Dhamari, Pimple and Hirave villages on Ahmednagar road were asked to include leafy vegetables in their daily diet because of the strong iron content in them. The team of ARI scientists even prepared recipes with leafy vegetables as the main ingredients to bring variety in their diet.

A booklet of 100 such recipes was circulated in the village and soon, these vegetables became a regular on every plate in the village. As part of the dietary programme, the women have incorporated innovative ways of making cow pea leaves (chawli), spinach and fenugreek, which has contributed in improving their haemoglobin.

“In fact, in one of the villages, we even indulged in contract farming. We caught hold of a self–help group there and asked it to provide one piece of a leafy vegetable to 50 pregnant women per week.

A piece of land was developed to grow leafy vegetables and a bunch of these vegetables were provided to these 50 women throughout the year. We made it a point to buy it at the same rate throughout the year,” Rao, also the head of animal sciences division and biometry and nutrition group, ARI, said.

According to the 2007 report of National Family Health Survey, anaemia is disturbingly common among adults, and its prevalence has actually increased over the past seven years. More than half of women in India (55 per cent) are anaemic, and anaemia among rural women has increased in the recent past.

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