New Delhi : Under the rice fortification programme, the Central Government is planning to distribute Fortified Rice through the Public Distribution System (PDS) in as many as 291 districts of the country by March 2023, the secretary of the Department of Food and Public Distribution Sudhanshu Pandey informed on Monday.
Under the Phase-II of the ‘distribution of Fortified Rice through Public Distribution System (PDS)’, which began in April 2022, overcoming all production-related challenges, 90 Lakh Metric Tonnes (LMT) of fortified rice has already been produced. The Phase-II of the programme– which includes Phase I plus Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) and Other Welfare Schemes (OWS) in all Aspirational and High Burden Districts, a total of 291 districts, will be covered by March 2023,” said Sudhanshu Pandey.
He also informed that Phase-I covered Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Prime Minister-POSHAN scheme in all over India by March 2022, nearly 17 LMT of fortified rice was distributed.
However, under the PDS, more than 90 Districts of 16 States have started lifting of fortified rice and around 2.58 Lakh MT have been distributed so far.
He further said, “Independent concurrent evaluation would be carried out by the Development Monitoring and Evaluation Office (DMEO) under NITI Aayog of the rice fortification to assess the outcomes and impact of the programme. Steering Committee in the States will monitor the implementation of the programme.”
According to an official statement, the entire cost of rice fortification (around Rs 2,700 Cr per annum) would be only borne by the Government of India as part of food subsidy till its full implementation upto June 2024.
Pointing out the problems of malnutrition, the Additional Professor of the Centre for Community Medicine (CCM) from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Dr Kapil Yadav said that Food Fortification is a cost-effective Complementary Strategy to address multiple micronutrient deficiencies. Only 0.01 per cent of the population might face health risks due to the consumption of fortified rice, particularly those ailing with Thalassemia Major.
“Fortified rice helps in preventing Cretinism, Goiter, IIH (Thyrotoxicosis), Brain damage, improvement in Foetal and Neonatal Health and improvement in the Productivity of Population. Therefore, the benefits of rice-fortification intervention far outweigh the risks involved,” he said.
Earlier, the centrally sponsored pilot scheme on ‘Fortification of Rice and its Distribution under Public Distribution System’ was implemented for a period of 3 years beginning from 2019-2020. “Eleven states have successfully distributed the fortified rice in their identified districts (1 district per state) under the pilot scheme. The pilot scheme has been over on 31 March 2022 and nearly 4.30 Lakh MT of fortified rice had been distributed,” the statement added.
In pursuance of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement to provide nutritional security, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs(CCEA) has accorded its approval for the supply of fortified rice throughout the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman-PM POSHAN (erstwhile Mid-Day Meal Scheme) and Other Welfare Schemes (OWS) of the Government of India in all States and Union Territories (UTs) by 2024 in a phased manner. (ANI)