Centre announces uniform specifications for fortified rice

India News

Days after the Prime Minister announced the fortification of rice distributed under various government schemes, including the public distribution system (PDS) and midday meals in schools, by 2024, the Centre on Monday issued uniform parameters for fortified rice kernels (FRK) for grade ‘A’ and common rice.

The specifications for fortified rice have been issued by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

“Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) under Ministry of Consumer Afffairs, Food and Public Distributionfor the first time issued uniform specifications for Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK) for grade A & Common Rice have in case of procurement of Fortified Rice Stocks, of which 1% of FRK (w/w) should be blended with normal rice stock,” said an official statement.

According to the statement, “The department issued the uniform specifications of food grains for Central Pool procurement for the ensuing Kharif Marketing Season (KMS) 2020-21.”

“These specifications as per standard practice have been issued in respect of Paddy, Rice and other coarse grains namelyJowar, Bajra, Maize, Ragi. These specifications also include standards of rice for issue to States/UTs for distribution under TPDS and Other Welfare Schemes based on the uniform specifications of rice for KMS 2020-21,” the statement said.

It further said, “The State Governments are requested to ensure that wide publicity of the Uniform Specifications is made among the farmers to ensure that they get due price for their produce and any rejection of the stocks is completely avoided.”

“All States/Union Territories and Food Corporation of India have been advised that the procurement during KMS 2020-21 may be strictly in accordance with the uniform specifications,” it added.

In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the fortification of rice distributed under various government schemes.

“Malnutrition and lack of essential nutrients in poor women and poor children poses major obstacles in their development. In view of this, it has been decided that the government will fortify the rice given to the poor under its various schemes. Be it the rice available at ration shops or the rice provided to children in their mid-day meals, the rice available through every scheme will be fortified by year 2024,” Modi said while addressing the nation from the Red Fort on the 75th Independence Day.

The announcement is significant as the country has high levels of malnutrition among women and children. According to the Food Ministry, every second woman in the country is anaemic and every third child is stunted. India ranks 94 out of 107 countries and is in the ‘serious hunger’ category on the Global Hunger Index (GHI).

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), that sets standards for food items in the country, defines fortification 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”.

According to FSSAI norms, 1 kg fortified rice will contain iron (28 mg-42.5 mg), folic acid (75-125 microgram) and Vitamin B-12 (0.75-1.25 microgram). In addition, rice may also be fortified with micronutrients, singly or in combination, with zinc(10 mg-15 mg), Vitamin A (500-750 microgram RE), Vitamin B1 (1 mg-1.5 mg), Vitamin B2 (1.25 mg-1.75 mg), Vitamin B3 (12.5 mg-20 mg) and Vitamin B6 (1.5 mg-2.5 mg) per kg.

The government distributes over 300 lakh tonnes of rice under various schemes covered under the National Food Security Act, 2013. For 2021-22, the Centre has allocated 328 lakh tonnes of rice under NFSA for schemes such as the Targeted PDS, MDM and Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).

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