Subadh Kumar Nayak

Bhubaneswar: In a bid to address anaemia and micronutrient deficiency amongst the beneficiaries of rice supplied under the Public Distribution System (PDS), Odisha government is all set to distribute Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK).

According to the State Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare department, the FRK (iron-rich and vitamin-rich rice) will be distributed under a new scheme named Supply of Fortified Rice under Public Distribution System.

Beneficiaries coming under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and the State Food Security Scheme (SFSS) will be eligible to get the FRK. However, the State government has decided to distribute it in Malkangiri district in the first phase.

Informing about the pilot project, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain said, "Initially we will begin the project in Malkangiri district. This would hugely help the malnourished and under-nourished children of the district. Gradually, we will roll it out in other districts of the State."

As per the proportions decided by the Technical Advisory Committee, each FRK granule will contain normal rice powder with micronutrients such as iron, Vitamin B-12, and Folic Acid.

The State government will procure the Fortified Rice Kernels from registered manufacturing firms and distribute it to the beneficiaries once in every four months.

The State government's decision to distribute FRK has reportedly come in the wake of several reports of malnutrition in Malkangiri district. As many as 770 children were identified to be suffering from acute malnutrition in the district last month. Besides, the district has more than 15,000 wasted (low weight for height) children.

Though Odisha government is distributing eggs, chhatua, finger millet, besan atta ladoo and cooked food in anganwadi centres to check the malnutrition among the children; it seems that such steps are not having the desired impact.

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