BHUBANESWAR: The State Government has decided to take forward the rice fortification model of Gajapati district to Deogarh where fortified rice will be supplied under public distribution system (PDS) to deal with nutritional deficiencies among children.
The World Food Programme (WFP), which assisted the Government in successfully launching the rice fortification programme in Gajapati, has offered to scale up the programme in Deogarh district. The issue was recently discussed at a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Secretary AP Padhi. The WFP has submitted a proposal to the State Government for piloting a project on fortification of rice distributed under PDS.
“It has been decided that a pilot project will be initiated in Deogarh district for distribution of fortified rice under PDS along with supplementary nutrition programmes under Mid-Day Meal (MDM), Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and other welfare schemes on cost sharing basis with WFP,” sources in the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department said.The decision was taken on the basis of the results and positive impacts of rice fortification implemented in MDM scheme in Gajapati district. The rice fortification has found high acceptance among students of Gajapati, the sources said.
In early 2013, WFP did a baseline study among school children aged 6 to 14 years in the district and found that 19 per cent of the sampled children were stunted (low height for age) and 14.5 per cent were wasted (low weight for height). The survey also showed that 73 per cent boys and 74 per cent girls from primary school were affected by anaemia.
Sources in the School and Mass Education Department said the fortified rice needs special care while cooking to ensure that the micronutrients are not washed away. The self-help groups (SHGs) responsible for the MDM programme in schools were trained to avoid excess washing of the rice. The WFP will train school staff and SHGs involved in the preparation of the meal on how to properly cook the fortified rice for maximum nutritional impact.
It has been further decided to include representatives of the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) in the advisory body of the project. The Health and Family Welfare Department has been asked to create robust platform for impact assessment for the rice fortification project in Deogarh district.