The government of Odisha has joined hands with international NGO World Fish to introduce fish and fish-based products in the nutrition plan for pregnant women, adolescent girls and children at 50 Anganwadi centres of Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district.

Development Commissioner Suresh Mohapatra said the technical partnership between the state government and World Fish will be for five years.

“Such innovation will go a long way in accelerating nutrition status in the state. Fish are commonly eaten by tribal communities and are culturally appropriate animal-source food,” Mohapatra said as quoted by Hindustan Times.

World Fish Director General Gareth Johnstone said the technical experts associated with the NGO would help Cochin’s Central Institute of Fisheries Technology to teach the Anganwadi centres and women self-help groups to prepare the fish powder.

Indian Anchovy and Indian Sardine are among the small fish that will be dried and converted into powder for the nutrition of the beneficiaries. The Odisha Nutrition Action Plan (ONAP), which was launched in 2016, will approach the problems of malnutrition using multiple channels of distribution.

The Odisha government is currently giving free ration and cooked food to pregnant women, children and adolescent girls. The state’s supplementary nutrition programme is being funded by the union government.

As much as 47 percent of children in the tribal districts of Odisha are malnourished. That national average of malnourished children is 38 percent. Fish is a rich source of nutrients as its Omega-3 fatty acids help brain grow and keep eyesight healthy. Vitamin B12, Iron and zinc are other nutrients that are found in fish.