Bhubaneswar: A high-level delegation from Nigeria consisting of government officials from ministries, departments responsible for health, food security, education, and food regulatory bodies and the private sector, facilitated by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), are in Odisha to learn from the state’s experience on rice fortification.
The Nigerian government is focusing on a national strategy to tackle micronutrient deficiencies. In line with this strategy, the government has authorised the fortification of rice, one of the primary staple foods of the country, as a part of the national fortification program.
India’s rice fortification implementation experience is a valuable example for Nigeria, especially how the ecosystem has been created around fortification in the country. India’s approach involves strong government leadership that supports public delivery systems such as the Targeted Public Distribution System and other welfare schemes.
Before the three-day tour of Odisha, the delegation also interacted with the Department of Food and Public Distribution and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India in the national capital. On arrival the Odisha, the delegation called upon Anu Garg, Development Commissioner cum Additional Chief Secretary, Odisha, in Lok Seva Bhawan today. V V Yadav, Principal Secretary FS&CW, Shubha Sharma, Commissioner cum Secretary W&CD Department & senior officers from concerned departments were present during the meeting.
“This learning visit aims to provide first-hand experience and knowledge to the stakeholders, equipping them to efficiently kick-start a rice fortification pilot project in Kebbi State using the school feeding program as a delivery mechanism,” said Mr John Uruakpa, Director of the Federal Ministry of Health, Government of Nigeria, who is leading the delegation.
“Odisha has completed the introduction of fortified rice across the state and national food safety nets under the National Food Safety Act 2013, a year ahead of the deadline provided by the National Government. Odisha piloted the first rice fortification in the country in 2012 in the Gajapati District. The state government is open to sharing its experiences and learning, especially towards addressing malnutrition and creating food security,” said Ms Anu Garg, Development Commissioner Cum Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Odisha.
“We are very excited to host the Promoting Rice Fortification in Nigeria (PRiFN) South-South Learning Visit to India. The visit aims to learn from India’s implementation journey’s successes, challenges, and lessons. Also, to identify how these learnings can be adapted and implemented in the Nigerian context,” said Ms Elisabeth Faure, Representative and Country Director for WFP in India.
The delegation will visit rice fortification sites to understand the process; machinery used, quality control measures, and safety standards. Members will meet with Indian food regulation officials to discuss regulatory aspects and compliance measures. They will also interact with policymakers designing and implementing the rice fortification programme.