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Cabinet Stamps Fortified Rice Distribution To Tackle Malnutrition

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By: Pramod Kumar Singh
Updated: April 9, 2022 11:16
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NEW DELHI: The Central government will distribute fortified rice under all government food distribution schemes including mid-day meal and National Food Security Act (NFSA) to tackle malnutrition and poor health, it said on Friday.

The proposal to distribute fortified rice was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday. The entire cost of rice fortification of around Rs 2,700 crore per annum would be borne by the government of India as part of food subsidy till its full implementation up to June, 2024.

Rice fortification, a process of adding micronutrients like iron, folic acid and vitamin B12, is an effective, preventive and cost-efficient complementary strategy to address the nutrition problem within a short period, as per an article co-authored by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar.

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The Centre would supply 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 by 2024 in a phased manner, the committee said in a release.

The scheme to distribute fortified rice would be fully implemented in three phases. In the first phase, the government plans to cover Integrated Child Development Services and PM POSHAN across India by March, 2022 which is under implementation.

In the second phase, distribution of fortified rice would start under Targeted Public Distribution System through fair price shops and Other Welfare Schemes in all 112 aspirational districts and 250 districts categorised as ‘High Burden Districts on stunting’ by March 2023.

The third phase of the scheme will cover all remaining districts of the country by March 2024.

“As part of vigorous implementation efforts, the Department of Food and Public distribution has been coordinating all ecosystem related activities with all relevant stakeholders like State Government/ UT, line Ministries/Department, Development Partners, Industries, Research Institutes etc,” the government said.

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state agencies are already engaged in procurement of fortified rice and so far nearly 88.65 lakh metric tonnes of fortified rice has been procured for the supply and distribution, said the government.

The announcement on the fortification of rice was made by PM Modi in his address on the Independence Day last year for ensuring nutrition to every poor person of the country.

The initiative is parts of the government’s efforts to overcome malnutrition and lack of essential nutrients in women, children, lactating mothers etc as it poses major obstacles in their development.

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 2019-20.

Eleven states — Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand successfully distributed the fortified rice in identified districts (one district per state) under the pilot scheme.­­

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