Keonjhar: In a remarkable move to improve the nutritional status of pre-school children and promote millets cultivation, the Keonjhar district administration has introduced ragi laddus as morning snacks for pre-school children (between 3 to 6 years of age) enrolled under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme in the district.
As per the plans, two ragi laddus will be given to the children on Wednesdays and Saturdays along with the existing menu at Anganwadi Centres from July 2.
In view of COVID-19 guidelines, the 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 district administration said.
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 major 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.
With this initiative, Keonjhar has become first disrtict in Odisha to provide Ragi laddus under ICDS to Anganwadis.