Published: 22nd December 2021
Fighting malnutrition: Why the FCI plans to distribute fortified rice to make India well nourished by 2024
Fortification of rice is a cost-effective and complementary strategy to increase vitamin and mineral content in diets and a step towards nutritional security and to fight anaemia and malnutrition
To eradicate the issue of malnutrition among people by 2024, fortified rice will be distributed to people through various schemes as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the Red Fort on Independence Day, General Manager (Region) of Food Corporation of India, Rajat Sharma said.
During the inspection of one of the PDS shops in the Chandauli (Varanasi) area, Sharma told the media, "On Independence Day, PM Modi said that the government will fortify the rice which will be given to the poor. People will get nutritious rice. By eating this rice, the problem of lack of nutrition will end by 2024. We will be able to achieve our goal and distribute only fortified rice. The health problems of the families are getting resolved."
"In the process of fortification, the rice is first crushed to a powder form and the vitamins and nutrients are added to it," he added. Elaborating on the nutrition that the fortified rice contains, the general manager said that the rice contains a "sufficient amount of nutrients" adding that the consumers will not be victims of malnutrition.
"Fortified rice means nutritious rice. It contains a sufficient amount of nutrients like iron, vitamin B-12, folic acid. The nutritional value of fortified rice is also very high due to the abundance of nutrients. That is, people who consume this rice will not be victims of malnutrition. This is also the aim of the government. To remove malnutrition, the central government has decided to make fortified rice a means," he said.
Talking about the benefits of nutritious rice, the general manager said that its consumption will help to overcome the problem of malnutrition which will help in the healthy development of children and women.
Sharma informed that the micronutrients in the fortified rice are artificially increased. "The amount of essential micronutrients, vitamins and minerals in fortified rice is artificially increased. Fortification of rice is an excellent way to increase the number of essential micronutrients in rice and improve the nutritional quality of rice," he said.
Laying down the roadmap of distribution of rice, Sharma said, "In the first phase, around 35 lakh metric tonnes of fortified rice will be given by March 2022 to 10.99 crore beneficiaries of Integrated Child Development Services and Mid-day Meal Scheme schemes."
"In the second phase, around 175 lakh metric tonnes will be distributed by March 2023 to 42.09 crore beneficiaries of ICDS and MDM schemes along with 291 selected districts. In the third phase, 350 lakh metric tonnes of fortified rice will be distributed through various government schemes to 72.59 crore people," he added.
To address anaemia and micro-nutrient deficiency in the country, the Centre expedites the capacity of the fortification of rice to increase from 15,000 MT to 3.5 lakh MT by incentivising and creating awareness among rice millers Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on "Fortification of Rice & its Distribution under Public Distribution System" was launched for a period of 3 years beginning in 2019-20.
The Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on "Fortification of Rice & its Distribution under Public Distribution System currently implemented in 6 States, - Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh have started the distribution of fortified rice under pilot scheme.
Fortification of rice is a cost-effective and complementary strategy to increase vitamin and mineral content in diets and a step towards nutritional security and to fight anaemia and malnutrition in the country. This strategy has a proven track record across many geographies in the world.