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U.S.-based Earth Institute, Columbia University and Indian School of Business, Hyderabad has conducted a
research and analysed that alternative cereals crops can be useful in saving water, while improving nutritional
availability to consumers.
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Indian farmers can save up to 33% irrigation water by switching crop patterns from rice and wheat to alternative
cereals, such as maize, sorghum, and millet. This switching of traditional cereals to alternative cereals could also
improve nutritional availability to consumers such as iron by 27% and zinc by 13%.
The analysis is based on water and cereal production data (Crop Water Requirement (CWR)) of
1996-2009 and found that alternative cereals disproportionately account for the supply of protein, iron, and zinc among
The study also highlighted that rice is the least water-efficient cereal when it came to producing nutrients,
and was the main driver in increasing irrigation stresses.
The study also stressed that India uses procured cereals mainly to meet obligations under the Food Security Act.
Under the act India is mandated to provide 5 kg of food-grains per person per month at subsidised prices of 3/2/1 Rupee
per kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains.