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Need to create awareness about fortified rice to boost demand: Food Secy

New Delhi, Union Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey on Friday stressed the need to create awareness about the benefit of fortified rice to boost demand as the Centre has decided to supply nutrients enriched rice through all its schemes, including PDS, by 2024.

The Prime Minister in his address on the 75th Independence Day had announced that fortified rice will be provided through all Government of India schemes.

Addressing a webinar, Pandey said: “It’s a momentous time in the Public Distribution history that such a major decision has been taken”.

“We have been given a time frame that by 2024, we have to supply fortified rice to the entire public distribution system,” he was quoted as saying in an official statement.

To mark the ongoing 4th Rashtriya Poshan Maah, the food ministry, as well as the Women and Child Development Ministry, jointly organised a webinar on Rice Fortification.

The secretary expressed satisfaction that the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) and Department of School Education and Literacy are looking to the vulnerability of children and students.

“They took the decision to supply fortified rice for their Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) programmes and Mid-Day Meal Programmes from 1st of April this year. As a result of this, we got an opportunity to work through an entire ecosystem of rice fortification and prepare ourselves to something, which was much bigger,” Pandey said.

The secretary said there is a need to amplify efforts to spread awareness about fortified rice and its benefits so that demand is created and acceptability for nutrient-enriched rice is better.

“All stakeholders must come together to create awareness campaigns using local languages,” Pandey said.

At present, seven states have already started the distribution of fortified rice.

Approximately 2.47 lakh tonnes of fortified rice is distributed till August 2021 under the pilot scheme. Production of Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK) has increased from 7,250 tonnes in 2018 to around 60,000 tonnes yearly. Additional capacity expansion of 25,000-30,000 tonnes a year is in the pipeline.

Nearly 3,100 rice mills have installed blending units in 15 key states with a cumulative monthly blending capacity of around 18 lakh tonnes for the production of fortified rice.

Standards have been established for fortified rice through regulatory agencies such as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Similarly, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has been requested to come out with a standard for extruder and blending machines for fortified rice production for uniformity, the statement said. PTI