Government last week approved the supply of fortified rice throughout the targeted public distributed system under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in three phases by 2024.
The main aim behind the decision, which was taken by the Union Cabinet, is to address the issue of malnutrition among the poor. The entire scheme will entail a cost of Rs 2,700 per year.
Fortified rice is made as per the standards fixed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). It has prescribed blending rice with three micronutrients - Iron, Folic Acid and Vitamin B12.
The Prime Minister in his Independence Day address last year, had announced that fortified rice will be provided through all central government schemes by 2024.
Let us find out what is fortified rice?
Rice fortification has been described by FSSAI as “deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients in a food so as to improve the nutritional quality of food and to provide public health benefit with minimal risk to health”.
Different kind technologies are there to mix micronutrients with regular rice like extrusion, coating and dusting. Extrusion involves production of fortified rice kernels (FRKs) from a mixture with the help of an extruder machine. The fortified rice kernels are mixed with normal rice, which results in production of fortified rice.
Why is fortified rice required?
Due to high level of malnutrition prevailing especially among women and children, fortification of food has been found to be among the best methods to combat the malaise.
As rice is considered to be one of India's most staple diets, therefore fortifying rice with micronutrients is an option to supplement the poor man's diet.
Fortified rice is prepared just like normal rice and it does not require any special process.
India's per capita rice consumption is 6.8 kg per month. Therefore, fortifying rice with micronutrients is an option to supplement the diet of the poor. Under the Food Ministry's guidelines, 10 g of FRK must be blended with 1 kg of regular rice.