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Experts Underline Importance of Fortified Rice for Nutritional Security

Fortification of rice has been recognised as a useful and complementary method for boosting dietary intake of vitamins and minerals with a quick turnaround time (TAT). Additionally, it contributes to the nation's fight against anaemia and malnutrition and represents a step toward nutritional security.

Shivam Dwivedi
Experts expressing their views on Importance of Fortified Rice for Nutritional Security
Experts expressing their views on Importance of Fortified Rice for Nutritional Security

In order to popularise and raise awareness about the benefits of fortified rice, particularly in the country's Tribal Areas, the Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) and governments of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Telangana, Rajasthan, and Kerala organised workshops and seminars in tribal belts and districts with populations that are susceptible to Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Anemia.

Gujarat State Government hosted a workshop at Meril Academy in Vapi on September 9, 2022. Following this, workshops were held at Nanurbar (Maharashtra) in Nashik (Maharashtra), Kanker (Chattisgarh), Jamshedpur (Jharkhand), Barwani (M.P.), Mandla (M.P), and Shahdol (M.P.) in association with DFPD, Development Partners and FCI where Minister of State Governments, Collectors, DMs, Technical experts, Local experts, Doctors, Civil Surgeons, NGOs, Fair price Shop dealers, Sarpanch, Leaders of Tribal areas, Officials of Civil supply, Health, ICDS, Development partners and experts attended the programme.

Prominent among the experts who addressed the concerns of the people were -Dr S. Nair, Dr. H. Gandhi, MS University, Vadodara, Dr. K. Yadav, Dr. T. Achary,  AIIMS, New Delhi, Dr. Raghvendra Singh, MAMC, New Delhi, Dr N. Tayade, PDM Medical College, Amravati, Dr. N.Bawa, Nandurbar, Dr. R. Mainde, NetProFan, Nagpur, Dr. M. Ruikar, AIIMS, Raipur, Dr. S. Aggarwal, Dept of Health, Chhattisgarh, Dr. U. Joshi, DG, Sickle Cell Institute, Chhattisgarh, Dr. B.Sahu, Dr. K. Singh, Dr. S.K. Makram, Scientist, Krishi Vikash Kendra, Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyala, Kanker, Dr. D. Kumar, Astt. Professor, RIMS, Ranchi, Dr. A. Chatterjee, and Dr. D. Pandey, AIIMS, Bhopal. The experts made presentations on fortified staples and their effect on Hemoglobinopathies such as Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Anemia.

The presentations were followed by panel discussions and Q&A sessions with technical experts and D/o Food & PD and FCI officials. The experts emphasised the benefits of fortified rice for the general public and addressed the people's and local media's concerns and reservations.

Fortification is the process of combining Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK) containing FSSAI prescribed micronutrients (Iron, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12) with regular rice (Custom Milled Rice) in a 1:100 ratio (Mixing 1 Kg of FRK with 100 Kg custom milled rice). In terms of aroma, taste, and texture, fortified rice is nearly identical to traditional rice. This process is carried out in rice mills during the milling of rice.

To meet the target requirement, the rice fortification ecosystem has been significantly improved by bringing on board rice millers, FRK manufacturers, industries, and other stakeholders. There are over 9000 rice mills in the country that have installed blending infrastructure for the production of fortified rice, with a total monthly production capacity of around 60 LMT, which has increased by more than four times since last year.

Rice fortification has been identified as a cost-effective and complementary strategy for increasing vitamin and mineral content in diets with a short turnaround time (TAT), as well as a step toward nutritional security and aiding in the fight against anaemia and malnutrition in the country. This strategy is used in many countries around the world.

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