Combating Hidden Hunger: Rice Fortification_00.1
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Combating Hidden Hunger: Rice Fortification

 

Relevance

GS 2: Technology missions.

 

Context

  • Recently, our Prime Minister announced the fortification of rice distributed under various government schemes, including the Public Distribution System (PDS) and mid-day meals in schools, by 2024.

 

What is hidden hunger?

  • Hidden hunger is a form of undernutrition that occurs when intake and absorption of vitamins and minerals (such as zinc, iodine, and iron) are too low to sustain good health and development.

 

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What is fortification?

  • According to Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), it is deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients in a food so as to improve the nutritional quality of food and thus improve public health.
  • Fortification of rice is a cost-effective and complementary strategy to increase vitamin and mineral content in diets.

 

Why needed?

  • High levels of malnutrition among women and children in the country.
  • According to the Food Ministry, every second woman in the country is anaemic and every third child is stunted.
  • India ranks 94 out of 107 countries and is in the ‘serious hunger’ category on the Global Hunger Index (GHI).

 

Hunger Hotspots: A Report by FAO-WFP

 

What are the added nutrients?

  • According to FSSAI norms, 1 kg fortified rice will contain
    • iron (28 mg-42.5 mg),
    • folic acid (75-125 microgram)
    • Vitamin B-12 (0.75-1.25 microgram).
  • In addition, rice may also be fortified with micronutrients, singly or in combination, with zinc and vitamin B.

 

Steps taken so far

  • The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution launched a centrally sponsored pilot scheme in 2019-20 on ‘Fortification of Rice and its Distribution under PDS’ for a period of three years.
  • The pilot scheme focuses on 15 districts in 15 states – Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Six states, including Maharashtra and Gujarat, have started distributing fortified rice as part of the pilot scheme, with approximately 2.03 LMT of fortified rice being distributed till June 2021.
    • Four more states are expected to start by September 2021.
  • The Food Ministry says that from April 1, 2022, 250 high-burden districts are proposed to be covered under the rice fortification scheme.

 

International Experience

  • Seven countries have mandated rice fortification – USA, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Solomon Islands.

 

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