Lucknow: The United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) in collaboration with the Food and Civil Supplies Department (FCSD), Government of Uttar Pradesh and New Concept Information System Pvt Ltd (UNWFP) organized a Workshop for all stakeholders on Fortified Rice in Uttar Pradesh on 11th August in Lucknow. The workshop was organized to sensitize staff of all stakeholder departments on fortified rice as well as to take stock of the status of its implementation in the State.
Shri Anil Kumar and Arun Kumar (Additional commissioner, Food and Civil Supplies) and Shri Rajat Sharma GM, FCI addressed the gathering and spoke about the benefits of fortified rice, which contains iron, folic acid and Vitamin B-12, important for fighting anaemia and micro nutrient deficiencies among the most vulnerable communities. The appearance, taste, cooking method and smell of fortified rice is the same as normal rice and it is being scaled up across the state after a successful piloting in Chandauli.
Bishow Parajuli, Country Director, UNWFP spoke about the technical support provided by WFP at the national and state level on rice fortification like policy development, capacity building and program monitoring. He also mentioned that The Copenhagen Consensus Centre is a think tank that researches the smartest solutions for the world’s biggest problems, advising policy-makers and philanthropists how to spend their money most effectively. At the Copenhagen Consensus 2008 the Expert Panel ranked fortification with micronutrients (i.e. vitamins and minerals), among the top three international development priorities.
Fortified rice is being distributed from AWCs as a part of supplementary nutrition, schools children receive it in their mid-day meals and ration card holders of 30 districts also have started receiving it from April 2022. The initiative is a step towards realizing the dream of Prime Minister of India of making India ‘Malnutrition Free’. Similar to this workshop, the UNWFP has recently completed a three months intensive campaign to sensitize community, frontline workers, mid-day meal cooks, parents, teachers and community influencers like gram pradhans for creating awareness on and consumption of fortified rice.
Thirteen districts of the State were selected for this campaign. Under the campaign, over 23,000 people have been reached at the community level though IEC Vans and cooking demonstrations covering more than 200 villages across nine districts (Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur, Shravasti, Fatehpur, Siddharth Nagar, Sonbhadra, Gautambudh Nagar and Lakhimpur Khiri). Another 600 people have been reached through Public Lectures on Fortified Rice held in five districts (Chandauli, Aligarh, Balrampur, Gorakhpur and Prayagraj).
Dr Shariqua Yunus, Head, Nutrition & School Feeding Unit, UNWFP spoke about the nutrient value of fortified rice, , the process of fortification and how the program will be scaled up . She informed that normal rice is fortified at rice mills empaneled by the state government for milling where custom milled rice is blended with FRK (fortified rice kernels) in the ratio of 100:1. She also mentioned that it is a complementary strategy along with other strategies such as dietary diversification and supplementation.
Niranjan Bariyar, Program Policy Officer (Nutrition) at UNWFP, informed that training of rice millers and state officials on fortification has been completed. The state government plans to cover 60 Aspirational and High Burden Districts of the state with fortified rice under NFSA (TPDS/AAY) this year. Fortified rice is already being distributed under ICDS and PM POSHAN schemes since October 2021.
A discussion on the myths and misconceptions prevalent in the community around fortified rice was conducted by panellists Mayank Bhushan, Senior Programme Associate at UNWFP and Abhishek Shukla, State Lead-Uttar Pradesh (Rice Fortification), PATH.
The event was attended by officials from Food & Civil Supplies, FCI, state MDM Authority, Health Department, ICDS, FSDA, professors from KGMU, RMLIMS, Era Medical college, Lucknow University, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, CFTRI, development organisations working on nutrition, rice millers, FRK manufacturers and Fair price shop owners.