The government on Thursday said nearly 6.83 lakh tonnes (lt) of fortified rice has been distributed under the Public Distribution System (PDS) in the second phase beginning April this year.

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

The first phase began in October 2021, under which fortified rice was distributed through Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman (PM POSHAN). Around 52 per cent of the districts have lifted the food grains in Phase II.

A total of 151 districts in 24 states have already lifted fortified rice under PDS, said the food ministry in a statement.

In the first phase covering ICDS and PM-POSHAN, nearly 17.51lt of fortified rice were distributed in states since implementation in October last year.

Meanwhile, the production capacity to blend fortified rice in mills has increased to 60 lt now compared with 13.67 lt on August 15, 2021. The number of mills having blending infra has increased to 6,000 from 2,690 a year ago.

Rise in numbers

The annual manufacturing capacity of Fortified Rice Kernel (FRK) has increased up to 3.5 lt now from 0.9 lt in August last year. According to the ministry, state-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state agencies have been procuring fortified rice since 2020-21 and nearly 145.93 lt have been procured so far.

The ministry has also developed Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) for adherence of Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) protocols on production and distribution of fortified rice and FRKs.

Food safety standard regulator FSSAI has drafted standards for FRK, pre-mix and provided the direction to all the stakeholders for operationalisation of draft standards with immediate effect.

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has notified the standards for FRK, pre-mix (vitamins and minerals), machineries (blenders, extruders and other allied machineries). Government think-tank NITI Aayog is also working with different stakeholders for concurrent evaluation on the impact of rice fortification initiative.