Netherlands contributes $800,000 for rice fortification

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DHAKA, Mar 21, 2018 (BSS) – The Netherland government has contributed $800,000 to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) for scaling up an initiative on rice fortification in Bangladesh.

Fortification is a complex process of increasing the content of essential vitamins and minerals in staple food.

The WEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Food, the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and other partners will use the fund to scale up the initiative on rice fortification, a WEF release said.

It said rice fortification aims to reduce micronutrient deficiencies among vulnerable groups in Bangladesh through access to nutrient-dense, fortified rice.

In 2017, the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs distributed fortified rice in 35 sub-districts covered under the Vulnerable Group Development programme, Bangladesh’s largest social safety net targeting ultra-poor women. In 2018, distribution of fortified rice is planned in 66 sub-districts.

This year, the Ministry of Food has agreed to integrate the distribution of fortified rice in two sub-districts under the Government’s new social safety net, known as the Food Friendly Programme. More than 350,000 people across 107 sub-districts will benefit from the distribution of fortified rice.

“Through a rice fortification effectiveness study, we found that consumption of fortified rice reduced anemia by 4.8 percent and zinc deficiency by 6 percent among ultra-poor women,” said Christa R„der, WFP Representative and Country Director in Bangladesh.

Jeroen Steeghs, Charg‚ d’affaires of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bangladesh said rice fortification is very effective in improving the nutritional status of people, especially ultra-poor women.

Rice fortification provides an immediate, ready-to-use product that helps to address micronutrient deficiencies at a large scale. Fortified rice kernels look, taste and cook like ordinary rice but are enhanced with six essential vitamins and minerals: Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Iron and Zinc. They are mixed with ordinary rice at a ratio of 1:100.

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