The union government has decided to enhance the distribution of fortified rice to malnutrition. Apart from the PDS system through which it is being distributed, now fortified rice will also be distributed via Integrated Child Development Services and Mid-Day Meal scheme from April this year.
At present, fortified rice is being distributed in one district each in six states, out of total 15 states identified for implementing the scheme, on a pilot project basis. The objective of the scheme is to address the problems of anaemia and micro-nutrient deficiency in the country. 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. It is also helpful that 65% of India’s population consumes rice as staple food.
“Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on Rice Fortification and its Distribution under PDS” was approved by the government of India in 2019-20 for a period of 3 years, with total outlay of Rs 174.64 crore. 15 states had consented to participate in the scheme and had identified 1 district each for implementation of the pilot scheme.
Among the 15 states, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh have already started distribution of fortified rice under the scheme in their selected districts. Till January 2021, approximately 94,574 MT of fortified rice has been distributed in these 6 States. Kerala, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh are likely to start the distribution fortified rice under the pilot scheme shortly.
Now to further enhance the distribution of fortified rice, it has been decided to distribute fortified rice under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) & Mid-Day Meal Scheme covering all the ICDS and MDM Centres across the country from April, 2021. Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of School Education and Literacy have agreed to bear the Incremental Cost at the rate of Rs 0.73 per kg for the fortification of rice under ICDS and MDM.
If required for this enhanced distribution, annual production of fortified rice will be increased accordingly. At present 15,000 MT of FRK (Fortified Rice Kernel) is being produced, it can be increased to 30,000 MT, which will be sufficient to meet the demands for ICDS and Mid-Day Meal scheme distributions.
The Department of Food and Public Distribution has also written to the MSME ministry to consider providing assistance to the rice millers for producing fortified rice. The ministry has said that a subsidy or suitable provision for providing financial assistance/package under ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan- Corpus for MSMEs’ can be provided to the millers to encourage existing and new rice millers to equip themselves with necessary equipment to produce fortified rice to meet the demand for the same.
To produce fortified rice, broken rice is ground into powder, to which the necessary nutrients are added. This mixture is then shaped into rice-like kernels. Rice kernels can be fortified with several micronutrients, such as iron, folic acid and other B-complex vitamins, vitamin A and zinc etc.