Govt to supply fortified rice through ICDS, Midday Meal scheme

New Delhi, Mar 11 (PTI): In a bid to ensure nutritional security, the government has decided to scale up the distribution of fortified rice and start its supply through Integrated Child Development Services and Mid-Day Meal scheme from April, a senior food ministry official said on Thursday.
Currently, fortified rice is being distributed via ration shops, also called the public distribution system (PDS), in one district each in six states out of the 15 states identified for implementation of a central scheme on a pilot basis for three months in 2019-20.
The objective of the scheme was to address anaemia and micro-nutrient deficiency in the country. “About 65 per cent of India’s population consumes rice as a staple food. Fortification of rice is a cost-effective and complementary strategy to increase vitamin and mineral content in diets and a step towards nutritional security and to fight anaemia and malnutrition in the country,” the official told PTI.
Till January this year, about 94,574 tonne of fortified rice has been distributed through PDS in six states — Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh.
“Kerala, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh are likely to start the distribution of fortified rice under the pilot scheme shortly,” the official said, adding that the government is following up with other states which are yet to start the distribution.
Besides PDS, the official said the food ministry has decided to scale up the distribution of fortified rice under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDM) covering all their centres across the country from April.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of School Education and Literacy have agreed to bear the incremental cost of Rs 0.73 per kg for the fortification of rice under the ICDS and MDM, the official added.
Several measures are being taken to increase the availability of Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK) from the current 15,000 tonnes per annum, the official added. There are 28,000 rice millers in the country. State-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI) has made it mandatory for the rice millers in all states to install blending infrastructure for the production of fortified rice, the official noted.
“If the utilisation of the plants is increased in their existing facilities, the annual production of FRKs maybe around 30,000 tonne, which is sufficient to meet the demand covering all the ICDS and MDM centres across the country to start with,” the official said.
That apart, the food ministry has written to its Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises counterpart to consider a subsidy or suitable provision for providing financial assistance to encourage existing and new rice millers to equip themselves with the necessary equipment to produce FRKs to meet the demand under PDS, ICDS and MDM schemes, the official added.

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