Fortified rice to curb malnutrition: 5 states yet to give consent to Centre’s scheme
Under the scheme, states will distribute fortified rice under PDS. The rice will be fortified in the milling stage and kernels with iron, vitamin D12 and folic acid, mixed with it in a 1:100 ratio.Updated: Sep 09, 2019 23:56 IST
Six months after the Centre approved a pilot to distribute fortified rice to curb malnutrition in 15 districts, a third of the 15 states that had initially agreed to implement are is yet to convey their consent, according to officials aware of the developments. Some of these states have now set certain preconditions that will delay the project’s implementation, the officials added.
The pilot, a part of the women and child development ministry’s flagship Poshan Abhiyaan programme, was approved in February. Under the scheme, states will distribute fortified rice under the Public Distribution Scheme (PDS). The rice will be fortified in the milling stage and kernels with iron, vitamin D12 and folic acid, mixed with it in a 1:100 ratio.
Of 15 states which had initially agreed to implement the scheme, five are yet to give their consent. States which are on board currently include Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Telangana.
The matter also come up in the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Poshan Abhiyaan in July. As per minutes of the meeting, accessed by HT, a representative of the food and public distribution department said that only 9 states had conveyed their consent, with some putting forth preconditions which “will delay implementation of the pilot project”. Since then, Telangana has come on board. An updated report on the implementation of the pilot is due.
The scheme, supposed to be a centrally-sponsored one, was to be implemented through the PDS system by the states. While the Centre agreed to a 75:25 ratio of financial responsibility, and 90:10 in the case of Northeastern states, ministry officials said that states spoke of many roadblocks.
Procurement of the kernels was one of the key problems cited by the states. “States are wary of capital expenditure, too. The blender used to mix kernels with rice costs anywhere between Rs 15-20 lakh,” said a ministry official.
In response to a demand from the consumer affairs ministry, the ministry had agreed to shell out an additional cost of 60 paise per kg for the blending of the fortified rice. This extra cost was to be met from the funds provided by the ministry under the Supplementary Nutrition Programme.
“We are very much on board and have signed up for providing technical support for rice fortification to the states under the PDS. However, our role comes much later; there are many processes to be accomplished before we step in,” said Pawan Aggarwal, CEO, Food Safety Standards Authority of India.