• Experts warn that a long journey lies ahead to implement distribution of fortified rice at government schools and anganwadi centres in 15 States as there is need to bring millers and snack manufacturers on board and improve quality control. 
  • However, some are also wary of its nutritional outcomes and caution that fortification of staples such as cereals may hurt local economies. 
  • The government announced earlier this week its plans to expand supply of rice fortified with iron, vitamin B-12 and folic acid on a pilot basis from 15 districts to 15 States with the aim to curb anaemia.
  • Fortified rice can provide 30-50% of the recommended dietary allowance of iron that adults need to consume daily, based on average Indian consumption.
  • Trials in a controlled setting, giving 100% RDA of iron through tablets, have shown results within 10 months. However, in a programmatic setting, with fortified rice, a minimum of 24 months of constant exposure is needed before we can see the impact. Baseline studies are now being conducted in the 15 pilot districts to measure current levels of anaemia in the population.
  • The immediate next step requires convincing food manufacturers to use the extrusion machines now used to make snacks such as kurkure or dried pasta shapes to also make fortified rice kernels, enriched with iron and other nutrients. “So far, there are about 15 manufacturers making the kernels, producing a total of 15,000 tonnes per year. 
  • The other immediate step is bringing the country’s 28,000 rice millers on board, to install blending machines which can mix the fortified kernels into the normal rice in a 1:100 ratio. 
  • Some public health experts also warn of adverse consequences of “the corporatisation of the food system” by insisting on processes that demand a centralisation of supplies. 

Fortified rice to be distributed through PDS in Vizianagaram |  Visakhapatnam News - Times of India