The Department of Food and Public Distribution, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, hosted a one-day National Seminar on Rice Fortification in New Delhi 22nd August, 2023. The seminar brought together key stakeholders from various domains to discuss and strategize the implementation of fortified rice distribution across the nation.
In his address at the seminar, the Secretary of the Department of Food and Public Distribution, expressed optimism about the country’s progress toward achieving the goal of 100% distribution of fortified rice in all rice-consuming districts. The Government of India has made a commitment to ensure the nutritional security of the country through the distribution of fortified rice within government food safety net schemes.
The seminar provided a platform for multi-stakeholder discussions. Alongside government representatives, technical experts from institutions and academia shared insights on various aspects of the rice fortification program. These discussions covered evidence-based findings, safety of consumption, operational challenges, quality assurance, and quality control.
The seminar was divided into four technical sessions, each focusing on key aspects of rice fortification. The first session addressed concerns about the safety of consuming fortified rice for the general population, including individuals with Haemoglobinopathies and Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). Dr. Reena Das from the Department of Haematology at PGIMER, Chandigarh, assured the audience that fortified rice consumption is safe, dispelling myths regarding its toxicity.
The second session, led by Dr. Prashant T., an Associate Professor at St. Johns Research Institute, Bangalore, provided evidence-based insights from national and international experiences on rice fortification. Numerous studies were presented that demonstrated the effectiveness of iron fortification in reducing anemia.
The third technical session gathered experts from organizations such as FSSAI, FCI, BIS, WFP, Microsave, and IIT Kharagpur to discuss strategies to address operational challenges at the grassroots level and streamline the distribution process.
Concluding the day’s discussions, the last technical session, led by Dr. Balasubramaniam, Joint Director at FSSAI, focused on quality aspects and recommended strategies to enhance the quality of fortified rice distributed.
The seminar also marked the launch of a national Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) campaign designed by the Department for raising awareness among beneficiaries. Additionally, a guidance handbook on rice fortification was released, serving as a comprehensive resource for all guidelines, notifications, and orders related to rice fortification.