Govt asks FCI to tie up with rice mills to boost supply of fortified rice
New Delhi: The government on Tuesday said state-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) has been asked to tie up with rice mills for increasing supply of fortified rice via ration shops and other welfare schemes.
Currently, out of the 15 states identified for ‘Central scheme on fortified rice and its distribution via public distribution system (PDS)’, five states are implementing it in one district each.
Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh have started distribution of fortified rice in their respective identified districts.
The way to scale up the central scheme was discussed in a meeting held on Tuesday between NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant and Department of Food and Public Distribution Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey and other stakeholders like Tata Trust, World Food Programme, Nutrition International, among others, the Food Ministry said in a statement.
It was felt that “there is a need to scale up the supply of Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK), whose availability currently is at a meagre quantity of 15,000 tonnes per annum,” it said.
According to the ministry, “FCI has been asked to tie up with the rice mills in different regions for necessary investments in this regard.”
The operational readiness of FCI would help in successfully scaling up procurement and supply of fortified rice in a phased manner from 2021-2022 onwards, it added.
In the meeting, the ministry said, the officials discussed supply chain and other logistics requirements to scale up the scheme to cover the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and Mid Day Meal (MDM) scheme in ‘aspirational districts’ in the country first.
It was observed that covering 112 aspirational districts for PDS, ICDS and MDM scheme would mean a requirement of nearly 130 lakh tonnes of fortified rice for which FRK supply capacity in the country needs to go up to nearly 1.3 lakh tonnes.
If the entire rice supplied through PDS, which comes to 350 lakh tonnes, is to be fortified, there has to be an uninterrupted supply pipeline of FRK from the industry of about 3.5 lakh tonnes, the statement said.
Further, there are nearly 28,000 rice mills in the country which need to be equipped with blending machines for mixing FRK with normal rice.
Food Minister Piyush Goyal had also reviewed the scheme twice recently and laid emphasis on scaling up supply of fortified rice in the country.
He had also directed FCI to come with a comprehensive plan for distribution of fortified rice under the ICDS and MDM scheme from 2021-2022 as well as in 112 specially identified aspirational districts of the country.
The pilot scheme is being implemented with a budget outlay of Rs 174.6 crore for a period of three years beginning 2019-20.