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UN food agency Pushes ‘Smart Crops’ as Rice Alternative to defeat Hunger in Asia

Soaring rice prices, slowing economic expansion and poorer growth in agricultural productivity have been blamed for the slowdown in efforts to tackle hunger

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FILE - A worker carries a bale of dry millet at a field on the outskirts of the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, Nov. 17, 2011. VOA
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Asia needs to make extra efforts to defeat hunger after progress has slowed in the last five years, including promoting so-called “smart crops” as an alternative to rice, the head of the U.N. food agency in the region said.

Kundhavi Kadiresan, representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Asia, said the region needs to focus on reaching the most marginalized people, such as the very poor or those living in mountainous areas.

The Asia-Pacific region halved the number of hungry people from 1990 to 2015 but the rate of progress slowed in many countries – such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Cambodia – in the last five years, according to a December FAO report.

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“The last mile is always difficult.. so extra efforts, extra resources and more targeted interventions are needed,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the sidelines of a business forum on food security in Jakarta on Tuesday.

She said government and businesses needed to develop policies to help make food more affordable, while changing Asians’ diets that rely heavily on rice.

“We have focused so much on rice that we haven’t really looked at some of those crops like millets, sorghum and beans,” she said.

A campaign is underway to promote these alternatives as “smart crops” to make them more attractive, Kadiresan said.

“We are calling them smart crops to get people not to think about them as poor people’s food but smart people’s food,” she said, adding that they are not only nutritious but also more adaptable to climate change.

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Soaring rice prices, slowing economic expansion and poorer growth in agricultural productivity have been blamed for the slowdown in efforts to tackle hunger.

More than 60 percent of the world’s hungry are in Asia-Pacific, while nearly one out of three children in the region suffers from stunting, according to the FAO.

Achieving zero hunger by 2030 is one of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals adopted by member states in 2015. (VOA)

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Being Hungry Might Increase Your Stress Level

The findings showed that the animals experienced stress and depressed mood when they were hypoglycemic

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There are a lot of issues to keep in mind when you try to make a decision about who suits the business. Pixabay

Sudden drop in glucose when you are hungry can have a negative impact on your mood, suggests new research.

The researchers wanted to investigate whether chronic, long-term hypoglycemia — low blood sugar — is a risk factor for developing depression-like behaviours.

“We found evidence that a change in glucose level can have a lasting effect on mood,” said Professor Francesco Leri from University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

Published in the journal Psychopharmacology, the study examined the impact of a sudden glucose drop on emotional behaviour by inducing hypoglycemia in rats.

The rats were injected with a glucose metabolism blocker causing them to experience hypoglycemia.

They were then placed in a specific chamber. On a separate occasion, they were injected water and placed in a different chamber.

When given the choice of which chamber to enter, they actively avoided the chamber where they experienced hypoglycemia.

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Representational image. Pixabay

“This type of avoidance behaviour is an expression of stress and anxiety,” said Leri.

“The animals are avoiding that chamber because they had a stressful experience there. They don’t want to experience it again,” she added.

The researchers tested blood levels of the rats after they experienced hypoglycemia and found more corticosterone — an indicator of physiological stress.

The rats also appeared more sluggish when given the glucose metabolism blocker.

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The findings showed that the animals experienced stress and depressed mood when they were hypoglycemic, Leri stated.

“When people think about negative mood states and stress, they think about the psychological factors, not necessarily the metabolic factors. But we found poor eating behaviour can have an impact,” lead researcher Thomas Horman from University of Guelph said. (IANS)