Modi Govt Plans New Scheme to Address Malnutrition Problem


PM Modi had announced from the Red Fort that by 2024, all government schemes would provide rice mixed with vitamins, iron and other nutrients to poor families.

By Vaishali Pandey/TheNewster

Pic representing Malnutrition in India/DownToEarth

On this independence day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced from the Red Fort that by 2024, all government schemes will provide rice fortified with vitamins, iron and other nutrients to poor families. The goal is to address the nutritional deficiency among those who are deprived of it. The government is now preparing a road map for it after the PM’s announcement.

A Much-Awaited Step

According to the World Health Organization and the famous health magazine Lancet, every other woman in the country is anaemic. Every third child in the country is underdeveloped or small in stature. Every 4th child in India is malnourished. Every 5th child in the country is weak. India ranks 94th among South Asian countries in the Global Hunger Index, which is just above Afghanistan who is at  90th rank.

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Loss To GDP Because Of Malnutrition

It is estimated that 68% of deaths of children under the age of 5 in the country are attributed to malnutrition. Death caused by malnutrition and related diseases reduces the country’s productivity which cost 74 billion rupees every year. Underdeveloped children earn 20% less than healthy people when they become adults. Iron deficiency causes the country to lose 1% GDP every year.

But Modi government has now formulated a new plan to address the problem of malnutrition. According to the government’s plan, the number of rice mills with rice fortification machines will be increased. At present, the number of such mills is 2650.

Similarly, it has been decided to further increase the technology in a total of 52 labs across the country to test fortified rice.

It will increase the production of fortified rice in the country which helps to fulfil the dream scheme of the Narendra Modi government.

Fortify Rice With Various Vitamins And Minerals

In his speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself announced from the Red Fort on August 15, that rice offered under any government scheme by  2024 would be made only after Fortify with vitamins and minerals.

Fortified rice with nutrients means mixing rice with iron, folic acid, vitamin B12 and some other minerals through machines while extracting rice from paddy so that rice becomes more nutritious. The government has now started working upon the Prime Minister’s announcement.

Among the government schemes mentioned by the Prime Minister, rice was given to about 80 crore people under the Food Security Act and rice was served to children in schools under the Mid Day Meal/ICDS scheme. 

The government had already decided to implement the scheme as a pilot project in one district each in the country’s 15 most affected states. However, the scheme has currentlybeen implemented in one district each in 6 states.

According to the road map, it will be launched in the country’s worst-affected 250 districts from 1st April 2022, while rice under any government scheme in the country will be fortified by 2024.

Experts Count Shortcomings

Many experts are praising this project but many are still in dilemma because of its shortcomings. According to N.C. Saxena, the food commissioner of the Supreme Court, the country has the highest number of malnourished children from 0-3 years of age and they don’t eat much rice. So, experts start doubting the credibility and efficiency of this project already.

One important aspect is that fortified rice’s taste is different from normal rice due to the increasing amount of various nutrients. There is also a need to take some more measures to popularize such rice among the people.

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