Human nutritional needs and crop breeding objectives in the Indian semi-arid tropics

Ryan, J G (1977) Human nutritional needs and crop breeding objectives in the Indian semi-arid tropics. Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 32 (3). pp. 78-87. ISSN 0019-5014

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Recent evidence on nutritional availabilities and needs within the semi-arid tropical (SAT) region of India is discussed, drawing upon data from surveys and feeding experiments to determine the major limiting factors in existing diets. The implications of the results for crop breeding and nutrition strategies are derived. The results from diet surveys conducted extensively in rural and urban areas of India suggested that the overriding nutritional deficiencies amongst low income groups are calories, calcium, copper, iron, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B complex. Protein and amino-acids do not appear to be limiting factors. Evidence from feeding experiments where actual diets are used as control treatments confirms that protein quantity and quality are not the primary limiting factors. The implications of these results for crop breeding strategies in the Indian SAT are that, to the extent that attainment of increased yield potentials in improved hybrids or cultivars is made more difficult by trying to include increased protein content and quality attributes priority should be given to yield and yield stability. Breeding strategies which emphasize yield and stability offer the best prospects for improving nutritional well-being of the least nutritionally and economically affluent groups in SAT India. Increased yields and production of foodgrains has a direct impact on prices and real incomes of the least affluent groups who spend a large proportion of their incomes on foodgrains. Increased real income will enable them to purchase additional foodgrains and thereby improve their nutrition. If yield potentials of cereals, pulses, oilseeds and other crops could all be substantially increased, nutritional improvements could follow, as these all have complementary nutritional compositions. It is not necessary that any one of the grains have a "balanced content" of all nutrients. People eat more than one food item each day and nutrition education can help ensure that the correct mix is consumed

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Mandate crops > Sorghum
Depositing User: Ms K Syamalamba
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2012 06:05
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 10:24
Official URL:
Acknowledgement: UNSPECIFIED
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