Ragi Laddus introduced for pre-school children under ICDS in Keonjhar
Keonjhar: The Keonjhar District administration with the support of District Mineral Foundation (DMF) has introduced Ragi Laddus as morning snacks for pre-school children (between 3 to 6 years) enrolled under ICDS.
District Collector Ashish Thakare kicked off the mission in a special programme held at the District Headquarters Conference Hall on Thursday morning.
As per the initiative, two Ragi Laddus per week will be provided as a morning snack to pre-school children (between 3 to 6 years) enrolled under (Integrated Child Development Services) ICDS in Keonjhar district, over and above the existing menu, from the 2nd of July 2020.
The core objectives of the initiative are to improve the nutritional status of pre-school children and revive the age-old tradition of millet consumption, once prevalent among the tribal communities of Keonjhar. Ragi has over 30 times more Calcium and 4 times more Iron than polished rice. It also has more fibre, minerals and antioxidants.
The initiative will also provide an additional source of income to women SHGs, an assured price to farmers for Ragi and boost local production of Ragi and other millets.
Ragi Laddus will be prepared and served to children at Anganwadi Centres, in addition to the existing menu on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The entitlement per child is 2 laddus of 20gms per week. As the COVID protocols are currently in place, pre-cooked, Ragi Laddu Mix will be provided via home delivery for pre-school children. Laddus will be prepared at home by mothers and served to children until the Anganwadi Centres are opened post-COVID.
The Ragi Laddu mix will be prepared by SHGs with experience in THR supply or running any other enterprise at scale. To reduce drudgery and ensure quality and hygiene standards, a Ragi Processing Unit consisting of a Grader-cum-Aspirator and a Destoner will also be set up at the SHG level.
In the first phase, pre-school children enrolled across 335 Anganwadi Centres in Sadar block will be covered under the initiative from the 2nd of July 2020. Subsequently, all pre-school children across 3257 Anganwadi Centres in the district will be covered from the 15t of September 2020. The total budget of the programme is Rs. 1.5 crores per annum and will be entirely funded by DMF.
The initiative is a part of the ongoing “Special Programme for Promotion of Millets in Tribal-cum-Mining Areas of Keonjhar under DMF” implemented in partnership with Departments of A&FE, WCD&MS, ST & SC, M&BCW, FS&CW and technical support of NCDS, WASSAN and CSIR-CFTRI. The initiative aims to increase production, consumption, processing and marketing of millets in the district.
With this historic step, Keonjhar becomes the first district in the state to include millets under ICDS. This is also a unique model in the country with decentralized production, procurement, processing, supply and consumption of millets, it was learned.
Later, the District Collector along with PD DRDA, State Millet Mission team and DMF workers paid a visit to Bhatunia village where they interacted with Ragi farmers and also distributed ragi Laddus to pre-school children.