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ISLAMABAD: Nutrition experts Sunday strongly recommended increased use of poultry and animal protein for meeting the protein deficiency in the younger generation, especially within the primary school-age children.

Experts added that the nutrition has received little policy attention in Pakistan despite the fact the country suffers from two forms of deficiencies such as under-nutrition and malnutrition.

In a statement issued here on Sunday, Founder Chairman, Pakistan Poultry Association (PPA) Khalil Sattar said that malnutrition is a problem of wide-ranging implications that caused two-third of deaths among children from one to four years old in developing countries.

He said that malnutrition is of a more serious nature, which arises from a lack of adequate intake of quality animal protein. The National science council of Pakistan felt that this form of protein deficiency causes lower energy, lower industrial and agricultural production, decreased resistance to diseases and high mortality and death rate in children.

FAO stipulates that the average protein requirement of adults is 45.92 grams/day. Animal protein requirement being 40%, it should be 18.38 grams, whereas its availability in Pakistan is only 6,4 grams/ capita/day creating a gap of 11.98 grams i.e. a gap of 776,304tons/annum.

The Chairman said that poultry is the only way forward to fill in the animal protein gap, as one out of every three Pakistanis "does not have regular and assured access to sufficient food". However, even then no steps were taken to fight malnutrition and under-nutrition, he added.

Khalil has suggested that we must learn from the experience in India, where steps have been taken to build a national nutrition policy, besides launching a national program, because malnutrition is considered as the mother of illness.

"Though the gravity of the problem of malnutrition has been recognized in all quarters, only stray efforts have been made which are grossly inadequate to achieve the goal. These efforts include the supply of skimmed milk and biscuits to children in the schools.

However, their nutritional values do not justify the cost expenditure," he added.

Therefore, the Chairman recommended that in Pakistan, for optimal results, efforts should be directed at meeting the protein deficiency of the younger generation, especially the primary school-age children.

"Eggs are not only the most economical single item for bridging the gap, but are packed by nature and are highly digestible and cannot be adulterated," he maintained. Khalil said that the Provincial Health Departments should consider the implementation of a nutritional plan for primary schools to serve two boiled eggs per child per week at a cost of Rs 16/week, as this cost is very economical compared to the cost of milk or biscuits.

Similarly, he went on to say that the social security department or any other relevant departments of the country, through the provinces, may make policies for industrial employees to serve two eggs per employee per week to meet the balanced diet of the workers.

He said that the way out in bridging the protein gap is to produce and supply as much animal protein as possible through exploitation and development of main sources of protein viz. milk, poultry and fish etc. However, we have to determine the economic priorities in allocation with limited national resources. We have to determine the most economical and cost-effective sources of animal protein, Khalil added.

He said that poultry is the only way forward to fill in the animal protein gap because it is the most economical to undertake and quickest to exploit and develop. Besides, it is more consistent with consumer taste and requires an extremely small area for intense production, he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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