Bhubaneswar, September 26: A high-level delegation from Nigeria on Tuesday called on Development Commissioner Anu Garg here.
The delegation facilitated by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is on a visit to Odisha to learn from the State’s experience on rice fortification.
The delegation consists of Government and private officials of health, food security and food regulatory bodies.
“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 John Uruakpa, Director of the Federal Ministry of Health, Government of Nigeria, who is leading the delegation.
The Nigerian Government is focusing on a strategy to tackle micronutrient deficiencies. In line with this, it has authorised the fortification of rice, one of the primary staple foods of the country, as a part of the national fortification programme.
Odisha has achieved the complete introduction of fortified rice across the State in all food based schemes 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 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.
India’s rice fortification implementation experience is a valuable example for Nigeria, especially the manner in which the ecosystem has been created around fortified rice 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.
“Odisha achieved the complete introduction of fortified rice across the State in all food-based schemes 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,” said Garg.
She said, “The State government is open to sharing its experiences and learning, especially towards addressing malnutrition and creating food security.”
“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 Elisabeth Faure, Representative and Country Director for WFP in India.
Food Supply and Consumer Welfare Department Principal Secretary VV Yadav, Women and Child Development Department Secretary Shubha Sharma and senior officers from concerned departments were present during the meeting.