Target group gets rice-plus
Social safety net beneficiaries in Kurigram Sadar upazila yesterday received rice fortified with essential vitamins and minerals for the second consecutive month.
They got it under a new joint initiative of the government and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
In the presence of government and WFP officials, some 3,000 poor women received the rice under the Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) programme.
The rice enriched with vitamins A, B1 and B12, and folic acid, iron and zinc was first introduced in Kurigram in June this year with the support from the Dutch government and Dutch multinational company Royal DSM.
Within the next few weeks, around 6,000 people registered with the Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) programme in Satkhira would also receive the fortified rice, said WFP officials.
Tariq-ul Islam, secretary of the ministry for women and children affairs, and Christa Räder, the WFP representative in Bangladesh, yesterday visited rice production and distribution sites in Kurigram, reports our Kurigram correspondent.
“Fortified rice can deliver essential vitamins and minerals missing in many people's meals, and can help ensure the poorest get the nutrition they need for an active and healthy life,” said Räder.
The nutrients are powered and mixed with rice flour to form pre-mix kernels, and these kernels are then mixed with regular rice in 1:100 ratio. Local millers in Kurigram and Satkhira have been engaged for this purpose.
“Fortified rice has enormous potential in addressing the widespread micronutrient deficiencies among those most in need,” said Tariq-ul Islam.
The officials of the government and WFP said after a three-month acceptability trial, if consumers' responses were found to be positive, the government would consider providing fortified rice to other safety net beneficiaries across the country.
Fatema Begum, a VGD beneficiary in Jhunkerchar village under Kurigram Sadar upazila, said she had received fortified rice last month too, and her family members liked the taste of it.