Cabinet Approves Proposal to Distribute Fortified Rice Under All Govt Schemes: Sources

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The Union Cabinet is has reportedly approved distribution of fortified rice in all government schemes, a source told News18.com on Thursday, April 7. As per the sources, the government has proposed to spend  about Rs 2,700 crore per year on the scheme. The policy is aimed to fight against nutritional deficiency problems in India. The update came at a time when the decision was being speculated.

The decision was taken when the Cabinet and Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) met in the late evening on the day to take economy-related decisions.

On August 15 last year, that is on Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that the government will fortify the rice distributed to the poor via different schemes such as Midday Meal in a bid to address the problem of malnutrition. “Malnutrition and lack of micro-nutrients are affecting the growth of poor children. Looking at this, it has been decided to fortify the rice given to the poor via different government schemes,” Modi had said during his Independence Day speech.

“The government will give rice fortified with nutrition to the poor. Be it the rice available at the ration shop, the rice provided to the children in the mid-day meal, or the rice available through every scheme, it shall be fortified by the year 2024,” the Prime Minister had added in his speech.

As per an article co-authored by the Centre’s top think-tank NITI Aayog’s Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar, “Rice fortification, a process of adding micronutrients like iron, folic acid and vitamin B12, is an effective, preventive and cost-efficient complementary strategy to address the nutrition problem within a short period.” The article however notes that “ensuring access to and affordability of healthy and diverse diets would be the key to a sustainable long-term strategy.”

Currently, out of the 15 states identified for the “Central scheme on fortified rice and its distribution via a public distribution system (PDS)”, five are implementing it in one district each on a pilot basis.

Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Chhattisgarh have started distributing fortified rice — mixed with nutrients — in their respective identified district.

(With agency inputs)

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