Indian government announces major fortification initiative in 118 districts

By Cheryl Tay contact

- Last updated on GMT

Fortified varieties of wheat and rice are to replace the regular varieties, with the two main added nutrients being iron and folic acid. ©Getty Images
Fortified varieties of wheat and rice are to replace the regular varieties, with the two main added nutrients being iron and folic acid. ©Getty Images

Related tags: India, Malnutrition, Fortification

The Indian government has announced that 118 districts in the country will receive fortified rations, in its latest attempt to fight widespread malnutrition, especially among women and children.

These rations will come in the form of wheat and rice enriched with vitamins and supplements, under an initiative called the National Nutrition Mission, which was developed by the food ministry and government think-tank NITI Aayog.

This is the first measure under the National Nutrition Mission, which was approved  by the government in December 2017, on a three-year budget of ₹90.46bn.

Aspirational additions

The two main nutrients that will be added to the food grains supplied by the public distribution system are iron and folic acid, with the guidelines for wheat and rice fortification to come from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

At the same time, a National Council on Nutrition has been formed to oversee the initiative. It will be chaired by NITI Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar, and will report to PM Narendra Modi every six months.

There will also be a second part to the initiative, which will cover 235 more districts in India.

The 118 current districts, referred to as 'aspirational districts', all have a set of 49 low-baseline socio-economic indicators, such as nutrition, overall health and education, and infrastructure, i.e., indicators that they have been performing poorly in these areas.

Fortified varieties of wheat and rice are to replace the regular varieties, and mills using fortification machines will be chosen to supply the nutrient-enriched grains.

At the moment, the National Food Security Act dictates that 50% of India's urban populations and 75% of its rural populations get wheat at ₹2 per kg and rice at ₹3 per kg, with each recipient entitled to a total of 5kg every month.

The fortified replacements will incur higher costs, and as such, are likely to increase the existing food subsidy bill from the current ₹1.69 trillion.

Longstanding problem

Issues such as low birth weight, under-nutrition, anaemia and stunting have been prevalent in India for many years.

An ASSOCHAM study last year revealed that India was home to the highest number of malnourished children in the world​, while 90% of school-going children in India have been found to be vitamin D-deficient​.

Furthermore, children are not the only demographic in India facing such problems. Maternal nutrition is also sub-par, with anaemia rates among pregnant women​ worryingly high.

NITI Aayog reported earlier this year​ that 35.7% of children in India under five were underweight and 38.4% were stunted.

However, the latter figure was still lower than a decade prior, when 48% of children under five were said to be stunted. This might be due to the numerous fortification drives implemented over the years, although they were slow to catch on initially​.

Related news

Show more

Related products

show more

HRB probiotics: The gift of life for infant health

HRB probiotics: The gift of life for infant health

Morinaga Milk Industry Co., Ltd. | 29-Jun-2020 | Technical / White Paper

Bifidobacteria are among the first colonizers of human gut, and certain species are recognised as Human-Residential Bifidobacteria (HRB) - the natural...

CryoCap: Protecting Vit K2 in Mineral Combinations

CryoCap: Protecting Vit K2 in Mineral Combinations

NattoPharma USA, Inc. | 02-Sep-2019 | Technical / White Paper

Suppliers must deliver proven material they can assure is stable in any formulation. NattoPharma is that supplier.
Many parameters influence formulation...

Robuvit® Shown to Improve PTSD Symptoms

Robuvit® Shown to Improve PTSD Symptoms

Horphag Research | 23-May-2019 | Research Study

Research shows Robuvit® French oak extract is beneficial for individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Robuvit®’s natural antioxidant...

Related suppliers

Follow us

Products

View more

Webinars

Nutra Champions Podcast

Nutra Champions Podcast