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Armed Forces seeking supplements for soldiers in inhospitable terrain
Friday, 14 September, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
The Indian Armed Forces is now looking at a broader basket of dietary supplements, functional foods, nutraceuticals and various other supplements. They are being researched extensively to maximise the nutritional gain of soldiers deployed in the most inhospitable terrain.

Going by the advancements in food technology, which can be maximised suitably to mitigate the ill-effects of weather and terrain, the Indian Armed Forces has seen the  need to address this requirement by examining the feasibility of introduction of various dietary supplements in the terrain-specific rations, in order to mitigate ill-effects.

In this regard, under the aegis of Army Training Command, ASC Centre and College, Bengaluru, a seminar, sponsored by Army Management Studies Board, was organised, It focused on Empowering Field Army Through Food Technology.

“The Indian Army is deployed in the most inhospitable terrain operating in the country spreading from high-altitude area in the north, the dense jungles in the east and the extreme deserts in the south and south-west theatres of our country. Soldiers are subjected to the ill-effects of terrain and weather conditions on their physical and mental well beings. The field of food science and technology has seen rapid strides in recent years.  Specifically, functional foods, nutraceuticals and various other supplements are being researched extensively to maximise nutritional gains,” said Lt Gen Vipan Gupta, commandant, ASC Centre and College.

The seminar will help facilitate a better understanding of the terrain and climatic conditions on both the mental and physiological health of the troops. The consumption of the right foods could minimise the occurrence of non-operational casualties and lifestyle diseases.

In a presentation on encapsulation of micronutrients, Sridevi Annapurna Singh, chief scientist, CFTRI, added the need to exploit nutrition to achieve combat efficiency from the existing foods.

Stating that challenges of high altitudes are nausea, fatigue, rapid breath, cold and extreme work requirements, she added that body needs Omega 3, Vitamin B12, protein water and magnesium. Each terrain, like, for instance, deserts or high altitudes require energy-dense foods.

According to A D Semwal, associate director and head, technology transfer division, DFRL, said, “While there is the technology for processed foods, we are increasingly focusing on the quality and palatability factor for the soldiers. This is because the food supply to the Armed Forces in remote and difficult terrains is sans cold chains. The focus is also on innovative packaging technology. In addition, edible cutlery has helped to offset marring the environment with paper and plastic remains. Another development is the introduction of non-thermo food processing technology imported from abroad.”

Stating that considerable discussions are underway on the food packs for human space flight mission in 2022, he added, “We are focusing on advanced food packs, like squeezable bottles, which will be filled with food like kesari bath and upma, among others.”

The one-day seminar was attended by many senior Armed Forces officers along with experts from the food industry, academia and research institutes across the country.

It provided a platform for the Armed Forces, research institutes and the major market players in the food industry to indentify and understand the requirement of the Field Army with a view to ameliorate these problems with the use of food technology.

At an expo of products developed by CSIR-CFTRI and DFRL Mysuru, the range, including Jiffy upma mix, edible cutlery, instant rice keer and frozen chilled mutton, was showcased.

So far, 583 companies have received the transfer of technology. DFRL is also looking at industry partners to indigenise the non-thermo food processing technology, among other imported equipment.
 
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