Around half of the households in rural India consume vegetables from free collection, while approximately one-fourth consume meats and fruits obtained from free collection with forests as the important component. Yet, forests’ contribution to food and dietary diversity is undermined. Dietary diversity refers to the variety in food consumed; i.e. the number of food or food groups consumed by an individual or a household The abundance of leafy vegetables, wild fruits, vegetables, etc. in the forests may assist in enhancing the variety of food consumed, thus, contributing positively towards dietary needs. Hence, in addition to contributing to food security (that was discussed in previous parts), free collection from forests and other sources also supports and enhances nutrition security.
The figure below represents the number of food groups consumed by rural households (National Sample Survey, 2011-12). The food items are categorized into 14 different food groups as recommended by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). There are two categories of households: The figure suggests that consumption from free collection increases the number of food groups consumed by households when compared to households that do not consume any food item from free collection.
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