The Union Cabinet of India authorized a strategy to distribute fortified rice through government programs on April 8.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared, in his last year’s Independence Day address, that by 2024, rice provided through different government programs, including the public distribution system (PDS) and midday meals in schools, will be fortified. Fortified rice has already been acquired for delivery and distribution by the Food Corporation of India and state agencies in the amount of 88.65 lakh tonnes (LMT).
Fortification is defined by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) as deliberately enhancing the content of critical micronutrients in food to improve nutritional quality and give public health benefits with the lowest health risk.
Fortified rice is made by combining fortified rice kernels with normal rice. Micronutrients may be added to normal rice using a variety of methods, including coating, dusting, and ‘extrusion.’ The latter includes the use of an extruder machine to produce fortified rice kernels (FRKs) from a mixture. It is regarded as the best technology for India to date.
Producing FRK using the extrusion technology includes combining dry rice flour with a micronutrient premix and water. The mixture is extruded using a twin-screw extruder with heating zones, yielding kernels that are comparable in form and size to rice. These kernels are dried, chilled, and packed in preparation for consumption. FRK has a minimum shelf life of 12 months.
According to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, the form and size of the fortified rice kernel should resemble the standard rice as much as possible, with the length and breadth of the grain being 5 mm and 2.2 mm.
1 kilogram of fortified rice, according to FSSAI standards, contains the following nutrients:
There are no particular instructions for preparing fortified rice. Before cooking, the FRK must be rinsed and washed like regular rice. In terms of packaging, fortified rice will be packaged in jute bags labeled with “Fortified with Iron, Folic Acid, and Vitamin B12.”
Food fortification is regarded as one of the most effective techniques for combating malnutrition since malnutrition among women and children is quite high in India. Every second woman in the nation is anemic, and every third kid is stunted, according to the Food Ministry.
Rice is a staple meal in the country, consumed by almost two-thirds of the population, and an average monthly rice intake of 6.8 kilograms. As a result, fortifying rice with vitamins is an alternative for supplementing the population’s diet.
According to India’s Ministry estimates, roughly 2,700 rice mills had installed blending machinery for the manufacturing of fortified rice at the time of the PM’s statement last year, and India’s blending capacity stood at 13.67 lakh tonnes in 14 important states. Within two years, FRK output had expanded fast from 7,250 tonnes to 60,000 tonnes.
The cost of modernizing an existing rice mill depends on the amount of fortified rice produced. The Ministry anticipated that making FRK with iron, folic acid, and vitamin B-12 would cost around Rs 0.60 per kilogram, and has stated last year that upgrading a rice mill with an operational capacity of 4-5 tonnes per hour would require an expenditure of Rs 15-20 lakh.