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Bidar district has a soya bean showcase

Staff Correspondent



FOR DIET TIPS: Food scientist K. Bhavani at the soya bean museum in Bidar

Bidar: Farmers bring their children to this centre of information where the little ones can learn lessons about nutrition. Welcome to the "soya bean museum" in the Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Bidar. Over 2,000 farmers have visited the centre, which was opened three months ago.

"Our aim is to make more farmers include soya in their diet after realising its benefits," K. Bhavani, an expert in home science who is in charge of the "museum", told The Hindu . "This will help create a market for the crop and motivate more farmers to grow it. The price of soya is higher than that of other commodities grown in the region, such as green gram, and farmers will benefit if they grow it," she said. "Bidar is the largest soya-growing district in the State and we want to maintain its position," she said. Soya is grown in over 25,000 hectares in Bidar. The yield is quite high at one tonne a hectare. "We have conducted 32 training programmes in cultivation and use of soya. Over 1,500 farmers, mostly women, have benefited from them," she said.

The museum has models of various food products that can be made from soya flour and soya milk. The method of preparation of dishes is shown. Pamphlets and leaflets on soya cultivation and soya-based food products are distributed at the museum.

"On some occasions, we also prepare food items such as idli, vada and chapati and serve them to farmers who come to the kendra for training. Many farmers have gone back saying that tea and curds made from soya milk taste better," Ms. Bhavani said.

Soya may be the best way to meet the nutritional demand of a growing population. It contains 10 times more protein than milk and has dietary fibre, lysine, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and oil. Research over three decades has proved that regular use of soya lowers serum cholesterol levels. Isoflavone in soya reduces the risk of many diseases including coronary heart disease and osteoporosis. Soya also helps alleviate menopause symptoms. Scientists in Korea have proved that regular use of soya milk and tofu reduces the risk of prostate cancer by half. Studies have shown that soya inhibits bone deterioration in women.

Any common food item can be made with a blend of soya flour. There is no need to change the method of preparation. "We have visited villages and taught women to mix soya with flour to make chapati, roti, dosa and idlis. The response has been tremendous," Ms. Bhavani says.

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