As many as 269 districts in 27 States have started distributing fortified rice under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), achieving a 100% target set for Phase II by March 2023 in the Rice Fortification Programme, said Union Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra here on Thursday.
He said 105 LMT of fortified rice was lifted by Phase II and targeted 27 States/ Union Territories (UT) for PDS distribution. “In addition, about 29 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) was lifted by the States/ UTs under the Integrated Child Development Services and PM POSHAN in Phase II, making a total of about 134 LMT fortified rice, lifted in 2022-23. Now under Phase III, the department is geared to complete the coverage of all remaining districts excluding wheat-consuming ones before the targeted date of March 2024,” he said.
When asked about the complaints against fortified rice from certain States such as Kerala, he said the Centre would look into such complaints. “We are looking into scientific evidence of these complaints. People take time to accept any new product in the market,” he said adding that if States wished to distribute indigenous varieties having iron content, they could do so.
The Centre had decided to supply fortified rice in every Social Safety Net Scheme of the Centre throughout the country by 2024 in a phased manner. The number of rice mills having blending infrastructure has increased from 2,690 to 18,227 from August 2021 to March 2023, he said, adding that the blending capacity increased from 13.67 LMT to 156 LMT. “The cumulative annual Fortified Rice Kernel (FRK) manufacturing capacity has increased more than 18 folds from 0.9 LMT (34 FRK manufacturing) in August 2021 to 17 LMT (more than 400 FRK manufacturers),” he said.