India to Start Rice Fortification:

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News: Recently, in his independence day speech, PM Modi announced the fortification of rice and its distribution through the Public Distribution System (PDS), and mid-day meals in schools by 2024. Read The News Here.

What is food fortification?

Food fortification is the process of adding and enriching micronutrients in grains, crops, fruit or milk, etc. This process is done to meet the minimum nutritional requirements of the population. Food fortification can be carried out by food manufacturers, or by governments as a public health policy that aims to reduce the number of people with dietary and nutritional deficiencies.

The added minerals and vitamins vary from iron, folic acid, vitamin B12 to zinc, vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B6, Vitamin C, etc.

What is rice fortification?

Just like any other food fortification, Rice fortification is also a process of adding micronutrients to rice. Micronutrients in the form of iron, folic acid, vitamin B-12, zinc, etc are added. Various technologies are available for rice fortification, such as coating and dusting. But ‘extrusion’ is considered to be the best technology in India. Extrusion technology involves the production of fortified rice kernels (FRKs) from a mixture using an extruder machine. These fortified rice kernels (FRKs) are then mixed with the normal rice grains and distributed. Under the Ministry’s guidelines, 10 g of FRK must be blended with 1 kg of regular rice.

What is Extrusion technology to produce fortified rice kernels (FRKs):

In this technology, the dry rice flour is mixed with a mixture of micronutrients (iron, folic acid, vitamin B-12, zinc, etc) along with water. This mixture is then added to a machine called the extrusion machine which binds the mixture and then forms kernels similar to that of actual rice kernels. This is done with the help of their 2 screw technology. The kernels ( added with micronutrients ) are then mixed with actual rice grains.

Rice fortification current affairs upsc

According to standard guidelines in India 10 grams of fortified kernels is blended with 1 kg of regular rice. The size of these kernels should be 5 mm in length and approx 2.2 mm in breadth. These FRKs have a shelf life of at least 12 months.

Why is rice fortification needed?

More than one-third of the world’s malnourished children live in India. Malnutrition among women is on the rise leading to anemic mothers. Moreover, those who are overweight or obese are also suffering from hidden hunger. India’s wasting rate is extremely high at 20.8% — the highest wasting rate of any country. Wasting is defined as low weight-for-height. India has the second-highest number of stunted children too. Stunting is defined as low height for age. Also, India ranks 94th on the Global Hunger Index (GHI), under the ‘serious hunger’ category.

Rice is considered a staple food for most people in our country. About two-thirds of the population consume rice every day. The per capita rice consumption in India is around 6.8 kg per month. Thus adding micronutrients to rice makes it most suitable to combat malnutrition and hunger.

The production cost of the fortified rice will be shared by both the Centre and the States. The government will pay the cost to the rice millers. This fortified rice will be packed in jute bags with the logo (‘+F’) and the line “Fortified with Iron, Folic Acid, and Vitamin B12” mandatorily printed on the pack.

The cooking procedure too is no different. As is done normally, the rice should be first washed to remove impurities and then cooked and consumed. No special procedure is required for rice added with micronutrients. After cooking, fortified rice retains the same physical properties and micronutrient levels as it had before cooking.

More about rice fortification in India:

This is not the first time that the government has come up with such a program. In 2019-20 the government on a pilot basis had started a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for rice fortification and its distribution under the Public Distribution System (PDS). The focus was on 15 districts in 15 states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh. Odisha, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and, Uttarakhand.

Moreover, not just India but countries like United States, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and the Solomon Islands too have their own rice fortification programs. The point to remember here is that the USA is one of those countries. It means even in developed countries like the USA, malnutrition exists. You can mention this example in your mains answer writing.

Related Questions:

The term used for the addition of nutrients to food that was not originally present is?
a.Food Enrichment

b. Food Fortification

c. Food Diversifiaction

d. None of these

Ans: b.

What is meant by Fortification in foods?

a.Removal of 1 or more vitamins or minerals
b. Addition of 1 or more vitamins or minerals
c. Addition of all vitamins and minerals
d. Removal of all vitamins and minerals

Ans. b.

Which of the following are the benefits and advantages of Fortification of Food?

1) Doesn’t change existing food patterns
2) Alters the characteristics of the food
3) Safe and cost-effective

a. 1, 3
b. 1, 2
c. 2, 3
d. All of the above

Ans: a.

What is Fortification of food?

a. Deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient in food
b. Providing tablets containing vitamins and minerals along with food
c. Proper cooking and storage of food to avoid loss of nutrients
d. Ensuring minimum amount of nutrients in food

Ans: a.

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