Fortified food scheme to be expanded by government of Haryana
This extension will be carried out through the HAFED (Haryana State Co-Operative Supply and Marketing Federation Limited), according to the chief minister's principal secretary, Rajesh Khullar.
The update was revealed at a meeting on food fortification held by the Department of Food and Supplies in Haryana, where the fortification of staples such as wheat and rice, as well as milk and oil, was discussed.
Expansion of distribution
At the moment, fortified chakki atta (a type of wheat flour native to India) is being supplied in Ambala's Barara and Naraingarh blocks, but by September, this will be extended to all PDS shops in the district, as well as in Karnal.
Perhaps more importantly, this will include anganwadis, or rural mother-and-child care centres in these districts, which will also receive fortified soybean and cottonseed oil by September 1.
The widespread malnutrition in India affects women and children disproportionately, with the ASSOCHAM claiming that only about 10% of the country's children receive an adequate diet.
Apart from supplying fortified chakki atta to more PDS shops, HAFED will oversee the fortification of mustard oil with vitamins A and D, and supply this in phases via PDS.
This will mean each family under the Below Poverty Line benchmark and the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) scheme, will receive two litres of fortified mustard oil every month.
The Below Poverty Line benchmark is used by the Indian government as a marker of low socio-economic status, and to identify individuals and households requiring government assistance, while the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) scheme aims to provide highly subsidised food to India's poorest families.
To support these efforts, the School Education Department will make the purchase of fortified edible oils — be it mustard, cottonseed or soybean oil —from HAFED retail stores mandatory, and HAFED will in turn see toit that only fortified edible oils are supplied to its retail stores, effective November 1.
Stepping up fortification across the country
The above developments were revealed not long after the Indian government had announced a major fortification drive called the National Nutrition Mission for 118 districts in the country.
Developed by government think tank NITI Aayog and advised by the FSSAI, the initiative will focus on providing the 118 districts with rations of wheat and rice fortified with iron and folic acid.
The National Nutrition Mission and PDS are two of the latest fortification drives in India, where the FSSAI has been pushing for the fortification of staple foods, edible oils and packaged milk products to combat the country's persistent issue of malnutrition.