This follows positive feedback regarding the scheme in the Barara and Naraingarh blocks of Ambala, where households eligible under the National Food Security Act have been receiving monthly rations of 2kg of chakki atta (a local variety of wholemeal wheat flour), 3kg of bajra (a type of millet), two litres of mustard oil and 1kg of sugar per person.
According to Ambala's district food supply controller Nishant Rathee, state government officials inspected the 13 flour mills that qualified to be part of the scheme via technical bids, deeming them suitable to process the wheat for fortified chakki atta, to be distributed under the Public Distribution System (PDS).
Milling and bidding
He told NutraIngredients-Asia: "We opened the price bids today (January 7), and have just been negotiating the rates with the flour mills, so we can decide how to price the fortified flour for commercialisation.
"So far, 12 flour mills have qualified for the bids, and we will later decide on the allocation of the amount of flour each mill will be grinding for distribution.
"The PDS beneficiaries of the Ambala and Karnal districts will then start receiving the fortified flour from February onwards."
Local and international checks
Rathee also revealed that for every 100 tonnes of flour that have been ground, samples are sent to a government laboratory. Once his office receives a positive report from the lab on the fortified flour, it is supplied to eligible residents and PDS shops.
At the same time, representatives from the US-based Food Fortification Initiative (FFI), such as director Scott Montgomery, FFI Haryana demonstration project coordinator Parveen Bhalla, and nutritional international deputy director Ann Witteveen, visit participating households to conduct checks on the quality of chapatti made from the supplied fortified chakki atta; their last visit to Ambala was on October 8 last year.
The future of fortification
Currently, there are 139,288 ration card holders among Ambala's 573,647 residents, and 195,065 ration cardholders among Karnal's 880,071 residents.
From November 2018 to January 2019, households in Ambala's Barara and Naraingarh blocks received a monthly 2kg of wheat and 3kg of bajra per person, as opposed to the previous monthly 5kg of wheat per person (in addition to 1kg of sugar and two litres of mustard oil).
From February 1 onwards, however, all eligible households in Ambala will receive a monthly 5kg of fortified wheat flour per person.
Rathee said, "The government had purchased bajra from farmers and decided to provide the two blocks (Barara and Naraingarh) of beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act with another form of nutritional food.
"Once this fortification programme has been successfully rolled out in Ambala and Karnal, it will soon be rolled out in the rest of the 20 districts in the state.
"In the coming months, we might plan for a programme involving fortified salt, but as for now, our target is to roll out flour fortification in these two districts, followed by others in the state."