Soya products can fight malnutrition better: expert

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Bhopal, May 12: Use of soya products can fight malnutrition better in both rural and urban areas as, among protein-rich mushroom, spirulina, soybean and pulses, soybean has 40 per cent protein content and provides cheapest protein, says an expert.

''In Madhya Pradesh, a very large section of population in villages is living below poverty line.

They are deprived of affordable nutritious food and their food is lacking protein and fat content,'' the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research's former director M S Virdi told the source here.

Pointing out that Madhya Pradesh's population has not adequately utilised the rich protein content of soybean rather it has been used for oil extraction, he added that soybean has been in use as food in the east Asian countries.

According to Indian Council of Agricultural Research Assistant Director-General V D Patil, more than 90 species of soybean have been developed thus far.

''Apart from removal of malnutrition, usage of soybean provides immunity against diseases and helps tackle obesity, control diabetes, high blood pressure and low cholesterol. Presence of the estrogen hormone in soybean helps women suffering from white fluid discharge. Women and children are worst affected by malnutrition,'' said Mr Virdi.

Several institutes such as the city-based Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering and the G B Pant Agriculture University are pioneers in the development of soymilk but still the use of soybean is not popular in villages and people in cities are not even consuming it, he said while adding that Madhya Pradesh was the leading Indian state in soybean production - about five million tonnes.

Providing more statistics, National Soybean Research Centre Director G S Chouhan said that about 90 lakh hectares were under soybean cultivation. ''Soya products include soymilk, soya curd, soya flour, soya biscuits, soya nuggets, soya paneer, roasted and salted soya grain. Eight litres of milk are produced from a kg of soybean. Intake of five per cent soya flour in wheat flour is good for health. In occasional snacks, one can mix 20-25 per cent soya flour among other ingredients,'' Mr Virdi added.

In 2006, he submitted a proposal to the Centre's Department of Science and Technology to develop a model in this state's Raisen district - for eradication of malnutrition in economically-weaker sections of society - and which could perhaps be adopted in other districts of Madhya Pradesh.

''I have established linkages with the Woman and Child Development Department, District Commerce and Industry Centre and District Rural Development Agency.

The project was initiated last October and awareness and demonstration programmes have already been organised at Raisen, Gairatganj, Silvani, Udaypura and Obedullaganj. Some entrepreneurs have come forward to set up cottage-scale units,'' Mr Virdi claimed.

A unique feature of the three-year project is that he has scaled down production of soymilk and flour to domestic level by using gadgets available in homes.

''Cost of soymilk is Rs 4 per litre and that is within reach of poor sections,'' the scientist added.

UNI

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