With 80 crore beneficiaries covered under the Public Distribution system, India could have relaxed knowing that it is successful in feeding the poor. Additionally, it is implementing One Nation, One Ration Card so that all the poor countrymen migrating out of their domicile states for work to avail food under the PDS scheme. The effectiveness of PDS system that is linked with Aadhar under the Modi government proved effective in the times of crisis through Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana.
Nevertheless, India is not willing to stop at its achievements. It is increasingly focusing on providing people with nutritious means so that many health hazards may be addressed in a preventive manner. Fortification of rice seems to be the first major step in this direction.
Fortification of Rice
Newspapers have reported that the government has decided to supply fortified rice in schools covered under the mid-day meal programme as part of its effort to fight malnutrition. The rice will be fortified with three micronutrients — vitamin B12, iron and folic acid.
The World Food Programme (WFP) had commissioned an evaluation report for the period of 2016-18 on fortification of Mid-Day Meal Programme in Dhenkanal, Odisha. Among the key findings, it observed a marked reduction in prevalence of anaemia; reduction in prevalence of deficiencies of Folate; and the proportion of students receiving Iron Folic Acid supplementary formulations at school increasing.
Fortified Food Through PDS
Beyond the mid-day meal scheme, even in PDS system, Indian government is taking step to introduce nutritious rice through the means of fortification. In February 2019, a Pilot Scheme on “Fortification of Rice and its Distribution under Public Distribution System” began. The pilot scheme for the period of three years beginning 2019-20 is seeing implementation in 15 districts. Under this programme the rice distributed is fortified with Iron, Folic Acid and Vitamin B-12.
Shaping a Nourished People
The fortification of rice is one prominent way of fighting malnourishment. The pandemic season has brought the focus on immunity and nourishment. In this context, rice fortification is the major step.
It should also be noticed that recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated 17 bio-fortified seed varieties developed recently. It consisted of several local and traditional crops including wheat and paddy, which have been made available to the farmers, an important step to strengthen the nutrition campaign.
With all these steps in place India has arrived at another milestone – to feed the population with nutritious food so that a healthy and strong nation is built.