IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


30th May, 2023 Health

Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.


  • India's pilot studies on rice fortification showed that nutritional anaemia could be reduced, with a significant drop in the prevalence of anaemia among schoolchildren, according to a United Nations report.





  • Through its World Food Programme, the UN supported national and state governments with a unique pilot-to-scale approach that could be "useful in countries where governments are not yet fully convinced about fortification.
  • The pilots included up to one million children.
  • In cases where there is already government buy-in, advocacy and sharing the experiences of other countries may be sufficient and would likely achieve scale faster --- the UN said in a case study.
  • Another approach would be for countries to undertake a pilot to test feasibility and acceptability and omit to evaluate the impact on anaemia, which may take a couple of years, it said.
  • As per the report, the pilots generated the proof needed to go big on India's fragmented rice industry and the large-scale of social assistance programmes. The public distribution system alone serves 800 million people, so there was concern that efforts to roll out rice fortification could not achieve the required scale and quality.
  • Some stakeholders felt that even though rice fortification efforts had been successful in other countries, these experiences would be difficult to replicate in the Indian context," the UN said.
  • Four large-scale pilots in different parts of the country were done - three in the school lunch and one in the Integrated Child Development Scheme.
  • These pilots effectively demonstrated that rice fortification could be rolled out through existing social assistance distribution systems and costs could be lowered through economies of scale, according to the UN.
  • After witnessing the success and feasibility of the pilots, in 2021 the government announced that all rice distributed through the three food-based social assistance programmes would be fortified by 2024.


Q.  Rice fortification is the most viable and welcome, preventive and complementary intervention to solve the problem of anaemia. However, ensuring access to and affordability of healthy and diverse diets would be the key to a sustainable long-term strategy. Comment.