Soon, fortified rice to be supplied to Anganwadi centres

KOLKATA: Aimed at providing better nutrition to women and children, the supply of fortified rice will soon start at the Anganwadi centres across the state. To begin with, the fortified rice will be supplied by the Food Corporation of India.

However, from January 2022, the rice mills in the state will supply fortified rice. The mid-day meal programme in the state from January will also provide fortified rice. A meeting with the rice mill owners and senior representatives from the FCI was held at the state Food and Supplies department recently. As per estimates of the state Women and Child Development department the total number of beneficiaries in the state is around 72.62 lakh that includes 15.67 lakh pregnant women and around 11000-14000 school girls. About 18000 metric tonnes of rice per month will be tentatively required for feeding the beneficiaries.

The fortified rice contains micronutrients as well as iron, folic acid which help in the development of the foetus and Vitamin B 12, essential for development of the nervous system.

Iron, zinc, vitamins and similar nutrients are added to normal rice for preparation of Fortified Rice Kernel (FRK). Then this FRK is mixed in an earmarked proportion with normal rice for preparing fortified rice. Usually 1 kg FRK is mixed with 100 kg of normal rice and supplied for consumption.

In the case of Bengal, no FRK is produced . So to begin with, the rice mills will have to purchase FRK from NAFED. FRK's price is Rs 68 per kg.

Rice mill owners have informed the state Food department about some other entities that produce FRK and sell those at a cheaper price in comparison to NAFED. They have claimed that the standard of FRK by these companies matches the standard of the Central government and have sought permission for allowing them to procure FRK from these companies. " The proposal is under active consideration of the state Food department," an official said.

According to sources in the Food department, the rice mills have to install a machine for production of fortified rice which will entail an investment of Rs 7 lakh. A rice mill will get 73 paise per kg extra for 1 kg fortified rice. The state government is willing to take up production of FRK in some rice mills located at strategic locations and have estimated an expenditure of Rs 3.5 crore for this. The Centre has indicated to supply fortified rice under the Public Distribution System in the days to come.

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