Govt to enact a law against rice polishing: minister
The government will enact a law to stop polishing of rice as it loses its inherited nutritional value in the process, said Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder yesterday.
"First and foremost, we must be aware that we won't be consuming polished rice anymore. And we are going to enact a law in this regard," he said while inaugurating the commercial launch of fortified rice at an event in a Dhaka hotel.
He said there are five types of polishing usually done in the rice mills across the country, for which the rice price increases but it loses nutritional value.
"It [polishing] not only causes nutrient loss but loss of 4-5 tonnes per 100 tonnes of rice," he said.
This way, around 16 to 18/20 lakh tonnes of rice are lost to polishing considering the total 4 crore tonnes of rice produced countrywide annually, according to the minister.
He also said the polishing of rice requires additional expenditure for additional power and labour.
"The rice price automatically increases by Tk 3-4 per kilogramme, but those do not contain nutrient [properly]," the minister said.
He also explained that rice fortification will not be any uniform solution to fight against malnutrition. Fortified rice contains vitamin A, B1, B12, folic acid, iron, and zinc.
Starting from 2013, distribution of fortified rice has so far been expanded to reach more than 14 million beneficiaries in 320+ sub-districts under two major safety net programmes of the government.
During the panel discussion followed by the keynote presentation, Dr Tahmeed Ahmed, executive director of the icddr,b, stressed adopting other methods to fight micronutrition deficiencies including biofortification and improving crops diversification.
Dom Scalpelli, resident representative and country director of the World Food Programme (WFP), said, "Using rice as a medium presents a great opportunity to reduce micronutrient deficiencies in countries like Bangladesh where rice is a staple. It is also the most viable option in situations of limited resources, such as these times of global inflation and economic crisis."