I recently visited our Technical Assistance and Research for Indian Nutrition and Agriculture (TARINA) intervention villages in Kalahandi, Odisha. At one point in time, infamous for a long history of famines, poverty and hunger, Kalahandi district in Odisha today is slowly transforming its history and image. The district is now reaping bumper harvests and slowly establishing itself as Odisha’s granary. Once you enter the region you can see beautiful fertile plains and small hilly regions that rise starkly and are wrapped in green.

Our team in the region has been working since December 2015 towards providing technical assistance in redesigning agricultural projects to ensure nutrition outcomes at scale. During my visit, I got a chance to interact with women small-holder farmers who promote the cultivation of pulses, vegetables, legumes, dairy farming and kitchen gardening practices.

One of the farmers from the village, Ms Mithila Putel, expressed immense happiness on having been able to master the nuances of year-round kitchen gardening in the most scientific way. She conveyed her heartfelt gratitude and thanked the TARINA project for equipping and training her towards better yields. She said that with the help of the TARINA project, diverse nutrient-rich vegetables and fruits have found a place in her daily diet. She also shared that her family has immensely benefitted through this intervention and health and nutrition level of all her family members have gone up. With the new intervention and greater yield, they now have surplus vegetables which they sell in the market. The net income has contributed towards accessing better health, education and healthcare facilities for her family members.

As a part of my visit, I also met a group of women from Tulapada, Boringpadara and Balisingha villages under Narla block who are working on the Nutrition Gender Tool Kit as an effective means of social behaviour change communication. Along with the toolkit, our team works on creating nutrition awareness programs focusing on enhancing the diversity of agricultural production as well as the importance of diet diversity for all members of the household, particularly for pregnant women, mothers and children.

As a part of this initiative, we have introduced behaviour change interventions that enable greater gender equity in food distribution and nutritionally appropriate child feeding practices in the community. It was a very fulfilling feeling to see how the lives of people in the village have changed with CARE India’s intervention.

The visit gave me perspective as well as an opportunity to further understand the complex interplay between subsistence agriculture and nutrition outcomes.

Rajan Bahadur, MD&CEO CARE India