Nutrition-rich fortified rice will be made available in the open market: Minister

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 22, 2021

Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Union Minister of State for Food and Public Distribution   -  The Hindu

Ashwini Kumar Choubey says move part of government’s strategy to move from food security to nutrition security

The government plans to make the nutrition-rich fortified rice available in the open market, Union Minister of State for Food and Public Distribution Ashwini Kumar Choubey has said. “In the coming years, we will try to make available fortified rice not only in PDS shops but also in open markets. The government is seriously working on this,” Choubey said.

During fortification of rice, micro nutrients such as zinc, vitamin B12 and iron are added to the regular rice. While there is no change in how the rice tastes, it becomes nutritious and will help take care of prevailing malnourishment in the country.

This is part of government’s strategy to move from food security to nutrition security, the minister said after inaugurating Food Corporation of India (FCI)'s quality control lab at Gurugram. “From food security we are moving towards nutrition security. Hon'ble prime minister had announced to complete this by 2024. But recently we and other senior reviewed the plan of action about fortified rice. We have planned to achieve the target before 2024,” Choubey said.

The goal of providing fortified rice through public distribution system (PDS) shops will be completed before the deadline, he said.

Scheduled to be completed in three phases, 35 lakh tonnes of fortified rice will reach intended beneficiaries under National Food Security Act by 2022 in the first phase.

In the second phase, 175 lakh tonnes fortified rice will be distributed in 291 backward or aspirational districts in the country. In the third phase, all the 80 crore beneficiaries of NFSA will be covered, the minister said. The Centre distributes about 375 lakh tonnes of rice annually under NFSA and other welfare schemes.

Food Corporation of India’s (FCI) Chairman and Managing Director Atish Chandra said that the corporation was tasked with the job of fortifying rice in April and the same is being carried out smoothly. “In co-ordination with States and rice mills, more than 16 lakh tonnes of fortified rice we have produced are being made available (to the beneficiaries) through ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) and MDM (Mid-Day Meal) schemes. FCI is also providing fortified rice for the pilot project which has been run for its validation,” Chandra said.

On testing facilities of FCI, Chandra said that many of the company’s centres are currently manual but are being automated. In line with the plan, moisture meters are being automated.

Published on November 21, 2021

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