Ensure food security in Bangladesh

More than a quarter of the Bangladeshi people are considered to be undernourished, and the rapid growth in the country's population is exacerbating the problem. Throughout her research career, Kanika Mitra, a L’Oréal–UNESCO For Women In Science 2013 fellow, has been dedicated to improving the nutrition of her people. She believes that self-sufficiency is one of the most sustainable methods of mitigating food insecurity in these vulnerable communities. Kanika Mitra is dedicated to helping developing countries, particularly Bangladesh, in their social and scientific transition.

DiscovHER - How do you anticipate your work contributing to the sustainability of your country’s resources?

Kanika Mitra - Bangladesh is a developing country and malnutrition has been a persistent problem. Food science & technology is a study concerned with all technical aspects of foods, beginning with harvesting or slaughtering, and ending with cooking and consumption. In Bangladesh, it is very important and necessary to imply the latest food technology in the agricultural sector to improve the present condition of malnutrition. I believe the outputs of my study would be beneficial for the agriculture sector of Bangladesh.

There is a clear need to diversify food sources both in terms of land and environmental sustainability, development of the rural economy and increased consumption to achieve improvements in the nutritional status of the people of Bangladesh. Therefore, I do believe that a very simple and healthy preservation technique of Arum L, strawberry (Fragariaananassa) and blueberry (Cyanococcus) would be a better way to reduce the malnutrition problem of Bangladesh through food self-sufficiency.

D/H - Have you had to overcome any considerable encumbrances while pursuing your career in science?

KM - I faced different challenges in pursuing a career in science, they can be divided into three parts. First, being a scientist in a developing country. Then in my personal life, with the need to balance a scientific career and a family. Lastly, because being a woman in science was not easy.

I believe that any kind of problems or barrier can be eliminated by a positive attitude, confidence and enormous knowledge in a specific field. Therefore, I am trying to face these problems very confidently and professionally.

D/H - What motivated you to begin a career in science?

KM - Ever since I was a teenager, I liked to tinker with scientific instruments like prisms. The colors of various chemicals fascinated me. It was my hobby, my passion, and my way of learning. By the time I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to study in science. I now want to work as a real scientist so that I can invent new technologies and be at the forefront of breaking trends.

D/H - What are the most significant problems you would like to address about the state of the planet today?

KM - I think our world is facing too many crises, including environmental and climate change, over population, food crisis, or genetic disorder. Ecology and environment problems are some of the burning issues.

Being a citizen of a developing country, I think nutrition and food technology is the most important scientific subject that we have to focus on, for the development of future generations.

D/H - How will this fellowship impact you and your work?

KM - The government of Bangladesh has started to encourage the consumption of a healthy diet along with food self-sufficiency. Greater attention is being given to research on nutritive diets. Once again, I do believe that very simple and healthy food preservation techniques such as drying and monitoring changes in physiological, biochemical and antioxidant properties of plants during storage could contribute to reduce and prevent the malnutrition problems in Bangladesh.

For Women in Science

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