The government is planning to introduce nutrition fortified rice on Open Market Sale to reduce the micronutrient deficiencies of poor people, a senior food ministry official said on Wednesday.
He said the government is focused on the nutrition of high risk groups of people, especially the apparel workers, and the nutrition fortified rice will be sold at subsidised price to improve their nutrition, the officials said at a discussion at a city hotel.
World Food Program with the support of the food ministry organised the discussion on ‘adequate nutrition for workers — economic and social benefits of fortified rice’.
WFP is supporting the government in the fortification of rice with essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, B1, B12, zinc, iron and folic acid.
Currently, the government is selling fortified rice at subsidised price to 50 lakh ultra-poor families under the government safety net programmes including vulnerable group development, food friendly programme and vulnerable group feeding.
The speakers said that rice is the staple food in Bangladesh and poorest people often eat only rice with some vegetables and spices. Regular milled rice, although high in carbohydrates, is low in micronutrients.
Speaking as chief guest, food ministry additional secretary Sarkar Abul Kalam Azad said, ‘As we are focused on high risk groups of people’s nutrition, we are trying to introduce the nutrition fortified rice on OMS in areas where garments workers live.’
WFP head of programme in Bangladesh, Rezaul Karim, said the economy of Bangladesh is developing fantastically but the development in nutrition status is not that remarkable.
According to WFP, 67 per cent of Bangladeshi women take inadequate micro and macro nutrients.
The prevalence of anaemia is 26 per cent of non-pregnant and non-lactating women and 39.9 per cent women of reproductive age are suffering from anaemia.
Prevalence of zinc deficiency among non-pregnant and non-lactating women is 57.3 per cent while the prevalence of Vitamin B12 deficiency is 23 per cent.
At least 5.5 million children under 5 are suffering from chronic malnutrition and 14 per cent children are acutely malnourished.
The prevalence of anaemia is 42 per cent of among apparel workers. The country’s apparel sector account 80 per cent women workers and 43 per cent of the women apparel workers are malnourished.
Rezaul called on the apparel industry owners to introduce fortified rice to their workers in the lunch and fair sale store for the workers.
‘Don’t consider the investment on fortified rice as cost…your investment can be translated into business benefit because good health of workers yield good production,’ he said.
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