The Ministry of Food and the World Food Programme (WFP) formalised the inclusion of fortified rice in open market sale (OMS) today.
Richard Ragan, country representative of the WFP, Sarwar Mahmud, director general of Directorate General of Food, and Md Zahangir Alam, chief controller, Dhaka Rationing inaugurated the programme at Chand Udda area of Mohammadpur in Dhaka, said a press release.
Nutrition International (NI) and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) will be supporting the advocacy for fortified rice in the programme.
Under the programme, the price of fortified rice was set lower than the market price, at Tk30 (USD 0.36) per kg for a maximum of 5 kg of rice per household per day to families with lower income. It is estimated that each household will be able to buy on average 20kg fortified rice per month. About 720,000 people in 144,000 households will benefit from this OMS.
Fortified rice will be sold six days a week in 120 centers across Dhaka North and Dhaka South City Corporations from 9 am till 5pm in selected shop outlets.
WFP aims to ensure distribution of fortified rice through the OMS programme to enhance the food security and nutritional wellbeing of vulnerable households who consume diets deficient in micronutrients.
"Fortifying the rice will provide essential vitamins and minerals when households are compelled to compromise food diversity due to access to markets and income opportunities during the Covid-19 crisis." said Director General Sarwar Mahmud, Directorate General of Food.
"It is also a cost-effective approach to address nutrient deficiencies in food aid to reach urban low income disadvantaged poor population," he added.
"Food insecurity has far reaching, long lasting impacts on the poor, particularly those living in areas undergoing rapid urbanization. The lack of access to a varied, nutritious diet is one of the leading causes of micronutrient deficiency and malnutrition in Bangladesh," said WFP's Country Representative Richard Ragan.
Regular OMS is a public food distribution programme, which sells rice at subsidised prices round the year when and where necessary for stabling the market price and support the low income population.
About Fortified Rice
Rice fortification provides an immediate, ready-to-use product that helps to address micronutrient deficiencies at a large scale. Fortified rice kernels look, taste and cook like ordinary rice but are enhanced with six essential vitamins and minerals: vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B12, folic acid, iron and zinc. They are mixed with ordinary rice at a ratio of 1:100.