USSEC, in cooperation with India’s PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, recently organized a workshop on the role of soy in health and nutrition in New Delhi.
J.P. Meena, Special Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, wants to establish a partnership between soy producers and processors, given soy’s protein and other nutritional value for large-scale consumption. Mr. Meena emphasized the role of soy to combat malnutrition in India and suggested a large-scale campaign similar to the one promoting eggs to be launched for soy products as well.
USSEC Director – India Food Program Dr. Ratan Sharma spoke at the event, describing soy’s nutritional qualities: “Soy is a highly nutritious food. Soybeans are one of the very few plants that provide a high quality protein with minimum saturated fat.” He continued, “Soybeans contain all of the three macronutrients required for good nutrition, as well as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Soybeans help people feel better and live longer with an enhanced quality of life. Soy contains 40 percent protein, making it higher in protein than any other legumes and many animal products. Protein in just 250 grams of soybean is equivalent to protein in 3 liters of milk or 1 kilogram of mutton or 24 eggs.”
Dr. Sharma also discussed various soy products, including soy milk, tofu, soy nuggets, soy fortified wheat and graham flour, and soy-based dal analogue, saying that these products have been produced using high-end processing, and that they are tasty and safe for consumption.
He further accentuated that soy could be an excellent solution to reduce the protein calorie malnutrition in India and that the Indian government should include soy as a main nutritional ingredient for various supplementary nutrition and welfare programs. Dr. Sharma pointed out that soy-fortified wheat flour can be widely used in the public distribution system and that India imports more than five million metric tons (MMT) of dal (lentils) from other countries. He believes that the government should promote soy-based dal analogue because it is less expensive than traditional dal and superior in nutrition.
John Slette, Senior Attaché for Agriculture Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in India, emphasized the role of soy in food and nutrition security in the country. Mr. Slette was very positive about the efforts that the Indian government is making to fight malnutrition and suggested that soy products could be a cheaper source of protein for India’s population.