From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Fortified rice, Biofortification, ICDS
Mains level : Various facets of hunger and malnutrition in India
In a bid to combat chronic anaemia and undernutrition, the government is planning to distribute fortified rice through the Integrated Child Development Services and Mid-Day Meal schemes across the country.
What is Fortified Rice?
- Rice can be fortified by adding a micronutrient powder to the rice that adheres to the grains or spraying of the surface of ordinary rice grains with a vitamin and mineral mix to form a protective coating.
- Rice can also be extruded and shaped into partially precooked grain-like structures resembling rice grains, which can then be blended with natural polished rice.
- Rice kernels can be fortified with several micronutrients, such as iron, folic acid and other B-complex vitamins, vitamin A and zinc.
- These fortified kernels are then mixed with normal rice in a 1:100 ratio, and distributed for consumption.
Note: Biofortification is the process by which the nutritional quality of food crops is improved through agronomic practices, conventional plant breeding, or modern biotechnology. It differs from conventional fortification in that Biofortification aims to increase nutrient levels in crops during plant growth rather than through manual means during the processing of the crops.
What was the earlier initiative?
- The centrally-sponsored pilot scheme was approved in February 2019 for a three-year period from 2019-20 onwards.
- However, only five States — Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh — have started the distribution of fortified rice in their identified pilot districts.
Need for expansion
- Currently, there are only 15,000 tonnes of these kernels available per year in the country.
- To cover PDS, anganwadis and mid-day meals in the 112 aspirational districts, annual supply capacity would need to be increased to about 1.3 lakh tonnes.
- To cover PDS across the country, 3.5 lakh tonnes of fortified kernels would be needed.
- FSSAI has formulated a comprehensive regulation on fortification of foods namely ‘Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2016’.
- These regulations set the standards for food fortification and encourage the production, manufacture, distribution, sale and consumption of fortified foods.
- The regulations also provide for the specific role of FSSAI in promotion for food fortification and to make fortification mandatory.
- WHO recommends fortification of rice with iron, vitamin A and folic acid as a public health strategy to improve the iron status of population wherever rice is a staple food.
Back2Basics: Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)
- The ICDS aims to provide food, preschool education, primary healthcare, immunization, health check-up and referral services to children under 6 years of age and their mothers.
- The scheme was launched in 1975, discontinued in 1978 by the government of Morarji Desai, and then relaunched by the Tenth Five Year Plan.
- The tenth FYP also linked ICDS to Anganwadi centres established mainly in rural areas and staffed with frontline workers.
- The ICDS provide for anganwadis or day-care centres which deliver a package of six services including:
- Supplementary nutrition
- Health checkup
- Referral services
- Pre-school education (Non-Formal)
- Nutrition and Health information
- For nutritional purposes, ICDS provides 500 kilocalories (with 12-15 grams of protein) every day to every child below 6 years of age.
- For adolescent girls, it is up to 500-kilo calories with up to 25 grams of protein every day.
- The services of Immunisation, Health Check-up and Referral Services delivered through Public Health Infrastructure under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.