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Fortified rice distributed via ration shops in 439 districts, other schemes

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day address in 2021 said the government aims to distribute fortified rice via the government schemes by 2024

Rice, Photo: Pixabay

Rice, Photo: Pixabay

Press Trust of India New Delhi

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The government on Tuesday said fortified rice is being distributed through ration shops in 439 districts and other welfare schemes so far, while asserting that there is enough global evidence of its health benefits.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day address in 2021 said the government aims to distribute fortified rice via the government schemes by 2024.
Thereafter, a scheme for the distribution of fortified rice, containing prescribed micronutrients (Iron, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12) was launched on October 2021 in a phased manner in order to address the problem of anaemia in children and women.
Addressing a press conference, Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh noted that there is "global evidence" of the health benefits of fortified rice and it is being implemented in several countries including the USA.
Moreover, the Women and Child Development Ministry and government think-tank Niti Aayog had advocated the distribution of fortified rice and the scheme was launched after wide stakeholders' consultations, he said.
Currently, the third phase of fortified rice distribution via Public Distribution System (PDS), also called ration shops, is on track. "We have covered 439 districts so far," he added.
Singh, who has been given additional charge of the Department of Food and PDS, said the scheme was started based on strong global evidence and "concurrent evaluation" of the programme has been mandated for mid-course correction if required.
While approving the scheme, the cabinet had mandated Niti Aayog to undertaken "concurrent evaluation" of the scheme. At least, data of 20-25 months consumption of fortified rice is required for undertaking a study.
Stating that there is enough evidence of health benefits of fortified rice, Additional Secretary in the Department of Food Subodh Kumar said more than 140 countries have mandated or allowed food fortification.
"The US and six other countries are already implementing rice fortification. Pilots (in India) were done mainly to develop an eco-system," he said.
Phase-I covered beneficiaries under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman (PM POSHAN). Based on the success of the first phase, the fortified rice distribution was extended to PDS as part of the second phase in 291 high-burden and aspirational districts, Kumar said.
"It took time to set up entire an eco-system with proper infrastructure for smooth distribution of fortified rice in the country," he said, and added that Phase-III which commenced from last month aims to cover PDS in all districts before March 2024.
The scheme is important as the country's 67 per cent children (ages 6-59 months), 57 per cent women (aged 15-49 years) and 25 per cent men (aged 15-49 years) suffer from anaemia as per the 2019-21 National Family Health Survey (NFHS).
Rice was chosen as 65 per cent of the country's population consumes rice as their staple food. About 350 lakh tonne of rice is supplied via PDS and 34 lakh tonne via ICDS and PM-POSHAN, he added.
The Additional Secretary also mentioned that the country has a blending capacity of 156 lakh tonne per month, sufficient to meet the domestic requirement. Food Corporaton of India has 253 lakh tonne of fortified rice stock as on April 24, this year.
He said many outreach programmes and workshops are being organised across the country to create awareness on benefits of fortified rice and its positive impact on nutritional security.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: May 23 2023 | 10:15 PM IST

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