Cabinet stamp for fortified-rice supply to tackle malnutrition, poor health

Updated on Apr 08, 2022 06:25 AM IST

The decision follows Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement during his 2021 Independence Day speech that his government would distribute fortified rice by 2024 under schemes, such as subsidised grains under the country’s public distribution systems (PDS) and school mid-day meal programmes.

Despite the country’s rapid economic growth, a staggering number of children and women still suffer from significant levels of hunger and malnutrition. 
Despite the country’s rapid economic growth, a staggering number of children and women still suffer from significant levels of hunger and malnutrition. 

The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved a programme to supply fortified rice in government-run food schemes to tackle malnutrition and poor health outcomes of a large section of the population, a person aware of the development said, requesting anonymity.

The decision follows Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement during his 2021 Independence Day speech that his government would distribute fortified rice by 2024 under schemes, such as subsidised grains under the country’s public distribution systems (PDS) and school mid-day meal programmes.

The programme is likely to cost the government nearly 2700 crore. The government will reveal more details about the programme on Friday, the person said.

A federal programme to provide fortified rice to schoolchildren and women is already being run as a pilot in 15 districts of five states. These states are Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh. One district in every state was picked for the pilot project.

Despite the country’s rapid economic growth, a staggering number of children and women still suffer from significant levels of hunger and malnutrition. The fortified rice programme will especially be targeted at schoolchildren through the mid-day meal scheme and women through the nationwide Anganwadi network, which runs child and women-care centres.

Fortified rice kernels are the basic ingredients that go into enriching of rice with vitamins and minerals.

According to the latest round of the National Family Health Survey, prevalence of anaemia has risen across age groups. Nearly 57% women aged 15-49 were found to be anaemic in 2019-21, compared to 53% in 2015-16. A significant rise — of 8.5 percentage points—was noticed in children aged 6-59 months (67.1%), according to the survey released last year.

The fortified rice programme will support the goals of the National Nutrition Mission, which aims to reduce stunting and wasting by 6% by 2022-end (2% per year) among children and anaemia by 9% (3% per year) among children, teenage girls and pregnant women.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Zia Haq reports on public policy, economy and agriculture. Particularly interested in development economics and growth theories.

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