GS 2: Technology missions.
- 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.
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.
- 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).
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.
- Seven countries have mandated rice fortification – USA, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Solomon Islands.