Keonjhar: The Keonjhar district administration has introduced ragi laddus as morning snacks for pre-school children under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme.
As per the decision of the administration, two rai laddus per week will be provided as morning snacks to pre-school children (between 3 to 6 years of age) enrolled under ICDS in Keonjhar district, over and above the existing menu, from July 2.
The core objective of the initiative is 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.
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 20 gms 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.
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 July 2. Subsequently, all pre-school children across 3257 Anganwadi Centres in the district will be covered from September 1. The total budget for the programme is Rs 1.5 crore 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 became 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.