November 8th, 2016
India ranks 20th on the Global Hunger Index. Food is definitely a major concern in the country, but more concerning is the lack of availability of micro-nutrients. Children bear the brunt of malnutrition the most, which is evidenced by the fact that India has the highest number of malnourished children, almost double the numbers in Sub Saharan Africa. The sight of malnourished children with their emaciated bodies across the country paints a grim picture of today.
We see their pitiable condition yet we hardly do anything to help. However, 26-year-old MV Ramesh has always been concerned about the condition of the malnourished kids and wanted to do something for them. Within a span of five years, he has been able to make a great impact.
Five years ago, Mahesh, then a student of PESIT, Bengaluru, came up with the idea of growing spirulina, a dietary supplement that will help the malnourished regain their nutrition. After PESIT, Mahesh went to Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) in Mysore, to study about spirulina and found that it is 100% natural, cost effective and can be the best solution for malnutrition as India is also the largest exporter of spirulina in the world. The studies gave Mahesh the impetus to his idea and he became a full-time spirulina cultivator in Tumakuru district of Karnataka.
What is Spirulina and how it is helpful?
Spirulina is a single celled organism with spiral physical configuration that comes from the blue green freshwater algae. Mahesh says “ If you consider protein, milk has 4%, beet, jowar has 8%, meat and egg have 14-18%, while spirulina has more than 65% protein. Vitamin A deficiency is the major problem in India. Spirulina has 25 times more Vitamin A than carrots. Iron content is 50 times more in spirulina than in spinach. It has DHA, and also has vitamin b12, which is not available in any plant source.”
“I wanted to take spirulina to the common people. So I took the initiative to a local orphanage with 110 kids. I found every week that at least 8-10 kids were going to the hospital due to issues caused by malnutrition. But after taking Spirulina every day, no body went to hospital for the next three months,” Ramesh told The Logical Indian.
He founded the Spirulina Foundation and connected with Department of Women & Child Development to improve the nutritional status of malnourished children and lactating mothers. Then, it transformed to an idea of a social enterprise. “With the help of Karnataka Government, several initiatives were laid in Tumakuru, Hassan and Raichur districts. The project was also reached out to the flood hit areas of Uttarakhand in 2014, where there was a dearth of food.” said Ramesh.
The Government of Karnataka introduced a new scheme called Bala Poshna, which aims to provide spirulina as a nutritional supplement to 25,000 kids suffering from acute malnutrition as part of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS).
The Logical Indian congratulates and commends Mr Ramesh for paving a way to help end malnutrition, and hopes more people join in to change and save lives.