Akshaya Patra launch millets with the support of Government of Karnataka and ICRISAT

Bengaluru, 12 January 2018― The Akshaya Patra Foundation launched a pilot in partnership with the Government of Karnataka to introduce millets in the mid-day meal scheme with an aim to enhance the nutritional intake of the beneficiaries. The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) will be the knowledge partner guiding this approach. Akshaya Patra is happy to support and be a part of Government of Karnataka’s campaign to promote Smart Foods. This pilot was launched in the run up to Organics and Millets 2018, International Trade Fair, being organised at Bengaluru Palace from 19 – 21 January.

The pilot will cover 1,622 beneficiaries across 10 government and government-aided schools. In the initial phase, children will receive millet-based items like upma, bisibelebath, sweet and khara pongal twice a week in addition to the existing mid-day meal menu from Akshaya Patra’s centralised kitchens. The implementation will be undertaken in a phased and systematic approach under the direction of leading subject matter experts and nutritionists.  

The launch was held at the Government Higher Primary School at Kumaraswamy Layout, Bengaluru in the august presence of Chief Guests, Shri Krishna Byre Gowda, Honourable Minister for Agriculture Department and Minster-in-charge of Bangalore Rural District; Shri Tanveer Sait, Honourable Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Government of Karnataka, and Minority Welfare, and Wakf Department excluding Haj, and Shri K. J. George, Honourable Minister for Bengaluru Development and Town Planning. Other dignitaries present at the event were Shri R Ashok, Honourable MLA; Smt Shoba Anjanappa, Honourable Corporator; Ms Joanna Kane-Potaka, Leader, Smart Food Initiative, ICRISAT and Shri Shridhar Venkat, CEO, Akshaya Patra. The event was presided by Shri Chanchalapathi Dasa, Vice Chairman, The Akshaya Patra Foundation. 

Shri Krishna Byre Gowda served millet items to the Akshaya Patra beneficiaries at this landmark event and stated, “The country has taken strides in achieving food security. The mid-day meal programme, started in Karnataka, has ensured food security for children. To further this agenda, it is imperative that we focus on nutrition security, particularly amongst children. Introducing millets in mid-day meals is a great beginning towards ascertaining this. Millets are not only rich in nutrients, but they are also good for our health, smallholder farmers and for the environment. This makes them smart food. We are very happy to undertake this initiative in association with Akshaya Patra as the chief implementing agency, and ICRISAT as the knowledge partner.” 

The other dignitaries in attendance appreciated and welcomed this noble initiative aimed at making a meaningful impact in the lives of the mid-day meal beneficiaries. They encouraged the Foundation and pledged their support for its future endeavours.   
Shri Chanchalapathi Dasa said, “We are happy to launch the pilot in partnership with the Government of Karnataka and ICRISAT. This initiative is a continuation to our efforts of enhancing the nutritional intake of our beneficiary children. We wholeheartedly thank Shri Krishna Byre Gowda, a true millet icon for his continuous support and encouragement towards this undertaking. We also extend our sincere gratitude to all other dignitaries present for gracing the occasion and supporting this initiative. We look forward to work with all stakeholders to efficiently implement this pilot. We are confident that with the pro-active support of the government we will be able to scale this initiative across Karnataka.” 

The global Smart Food movement initiated by ICRISAT has been developed with the aim to ‘mainstream’ selected Smart Foods, back as a staple, in their traditional countries across Asia and Africa – bringing diversity in diets, and on the farm.  
The Leader of Smart Food Initiative for ICRISAT, Ms Joanna Kane-Potaka, remarked, “Making millets popular to the masses again will be a major breakthrough in overcoming malnutrition and rural poverty while being more sustainable for the environment. It can also drive new markets and business opportunities. It is also predicted to be the next superfood, globally.” 

Similarly, Akshaya Patra had earlier launched millet snacks in the form of khaja, chikki, laddoos, etc. as a part of the mid-day meal programme covering 1,05,724 children in government schools and anganwadi centres in Telangana, during the first week of January. Other organisations who will contribute to this initiative are, Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), MS Swaminathan Foundation (MSSRF), National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR), and other government and industry groups. By working together and adopting a large-scale approach, Akshaya Patra is optimistic of making a significant impact towards India’s Nutrition Mission for the benefit of current and future generations. 

About The Akshaya Patra Foundation  

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation headquartered in Bengaluru, India. The organisation strives to fight issues like hunger and malnutrition in India. By implementing the mid-day meal scheme in Government and Government aided schools, The Akshaya Patra Foundation aims not only to fight hunger but also to bring children to school. 

Since the year 2000, the organisation has worked towards reaching more children with wholesome food, every school day. The Akshaya Patra Foundation is continuously leveraging technology to cater to millions of children. Its state-of-the-art kitchens have become a subject of study and they attract curious visitors from around the world. In partnership with the Government of India and various State Governments and with inestimable support from many philanthropic donors and well-wishers, Akshaya Patra has grown from humble beginnings serving just 1,500 schoolchildren across 5 schools in Bangalore. Today, The Akshaya Patra Foundation is the world’s largest (not-for-profit run) mid-day meal programme serving wholesome food to 1.66 million children from 13,839 schools across 12 states in India. Visit website: www.akshayapatra.org    

About ICRISAT                                                 

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT) is a non-profit, nonpolitical organisation that conducts agricultural research for development in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa with a wide array of partners throughout the world. Covering 6.5 million square kilometres of land in 55 countries, the semi-arid tropics have over 2 billion people, and 644 million of these are the poorest of the poor. ICRISAT innovations help the dryland poor move from poverty to prosperity by harnessing markets while managing risks – a strategy called Inclusive Market-Oriented development (lMOD). ICRISAT is headquartered in Hyderabad, Telangana, India, with offices in nine countries in Africa. It is a member of the CGIAR Consortium. Visit website: www.icrisat.org; For ICRISAT’s scientific information see: http://EXPLOREit.icrisat.org   

The CGIAR system organisation is a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future. Its science is carried out by 15 research centres who are members of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partner organisations. www.cgiar.org 

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