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Impact of Enriching the Diet of Women and Children Through Health and Nutrition Education, Introduction of Homestead Gardens and Backyard Poultry in Rural India


The study addresses the issue of micronutrient deficiency in diets through health and nutrition education and introduction of homestead gardens and backyard poultry with high egg-yielding birds in a rural community. The target was the pregnant women and mothers with preschool children aged 6–24 months registered with the 11 Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) centres called ‘Anganwadi’ in eight villages of Medak district, in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh (now Telangana). Knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) surveys of health and nutrition on a sub-sample of 142 mothers with 6- to 24-month-old children done initially and at the end of three years showed marked improvement in mothers’ knowledge and child-feeding practices. At the end of three years, 335 target families had raised vegetable gardens diverting 57.8 acres of land. The KAP survey responses showed that the percentage of families raising homestead gardens increased from 30 % initially to over 70 % finally. Weekly mean frequency of green leafy vegetables (GLV) cooked, increased from 1.9 to 2.4. The percentage of households cooking GLV more than three times per week increased from 21 in the initial survey to 45 in the final survey. Weekly frequency and quantity of eggs consumed, among households who set up BYP, more than doubled. ICDS records showed gradual decline in percentage of 6 to 24-month-old children suffering from moderate-to-severe malnutrition, over the three-year experimental period.

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Fig. 1



All India Coordinated Research Project


Accredited Social Health Activist


Backyard poultry


Green leafy vegetables


Integrated Child Development Services


Knowledge, attitude and practice


Low birth weight


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The financial support for this study from the Department of Science and Technology—SEED programme is gratefully acknowledged. The technical support for this study was provided by N. Venkatesh (agriculture and horticulture), D. V. Ramana (education and data management), P. Pentiah (poultry) and KV Lakshmi (cooking demonstrations) and Supraja Sharma, (statistical analysis). The guidance and assistance from the following scientists are gratefully acknowledged: Dr. S. Narsimha Reddy, KVK Aurobindo Institute of Rural Development, Nalgonda district, AP (green methods of farming); Dr. ST Viroji Rao, Principal Scientist, AICP, Poultry, Sri Venkateshwara Veterinary University (AP) (BYP); Dr. T. Kotiah (Inbro research and breeding farm, Hyderabad (BYP); Dr. Archana Mukerjee, Principal Scientist, Regional centre of Central Tuber Crops Research Institute, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Bhubaneswar, Odisha (advise and supply of cuttings of orange-flesh sweet potato); Dr. K. Bhaskarachary, Scientist, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad (analyses of orange-fleshed sweet potato for carotenoids); and Dangoria Charitable Trust for all the facilities provided. Last but not the least the ICDS authorities, functionaries and the community for their cooperation.

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Correspondence to Mahtab S. Bamji.

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Murty, P.V.V.S., Rao, M.V. & Bamji, M.S. Impact of Enriching the Diet of Women and Children Through Health and Nutrition Education, Introduction of Homestead Gardens and Backyard Poultry in Rural India. Agric Res 5, 210–217 (2016).

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  • Dietary micronutrient deficiency in India
  • Homestead gardens
  • Backyard poultry
  • Health and nutrition education
  • Integrated Child Development Services - Anganwadi
  • Knowledge, attitude and practice survey
  • Preschool children nutrition status