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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Primary kids get deficit supply of fortified rice

Distribution under Midday Meal Scheme

Written by Ritu Sharma | Ahmedabad |
October 29, 2021 6:11:20 am
Midday Meal, Midday Meal scheme, MDM, Covid-19 lockdown, lockdown, gujaratAgainst a requirement of nearly 20,000 metric tonne fortified rice for over 51 lakh children registered in 2021 from Class 1 to 8 for the first quarter, the state could procure only nearly 16,000 metric ton fortified rice from rice producing states of Punjab and Haryana. (File/Representational)

Primary schools in Gujarat recorded a deficit of at least 4,000 metric tonnes of Fortified Rice Kernel (FRK) distributed under the Midday Meal Scheme (MDM) in lieu of cooked food that was suspended  on account of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Against a requirement of nearly 20,000 metric tonne fortified rice for over 51 lakh children registered in 2021 from Class 1 to 8 for the first quarter, the state could procure only nearly 16,000 metric ton fortified rice from rice producing states of Punjab and Haryana.

Ahmedabad (both city and district), Jamnagar and Rajkot received the lowest supply of fortified rice to students in the first two batches — April 1, 2021, till May 5 (23 days) and June 7 till July 31 (47 days of new academic session).

As per data accessed by The Indian Express, children in the districts of Ahmedabad, Aravalli, Bharuch, Jamnagar, Navsari, Porbandar, Sabarkantha, Surendranagar along with Ahmedabad city did not receive even a single gram of fortified rice in the first batch of 23 days.

In Ahmedabad city, the distribution for 47 days in June and July to a total of 1,59,425 students started only in October.

The officials of midday meal scheme blamed it on the deficit supply from the Food Corporation of India (FCI), while the latter claimed shortage of production in Punjab and Haryana.

The introduction of fortified rice in MDM scheme was aimed at addressing anaemia, malnutrition and deficiency of iron and essential minerals. Gujarat is already struggling to address malnutrition and anaemia among children.

“Gujarat being the Decentralised Procurement State (DPS), there is no rice mill in Gujarat making fortified rice… it is procured from Punjab and Haryana. Since fortified rice could not be prepared and procured during the time of distribution, these districts fell short,” said Shrikant Prasad, general manager, FCI that procures and supplies fortified rice to the education department.

Joint commissioner of MDM scheme K N Chavda said, “The process of fortification takes time and Gujarat has no mill for the same…”  However, the mills have started producing fortified rice in full swing and it is available now, Prasad added.

Following a decision by the Central Government in March 2021 to supply fortified rice in government schools and anganwadi centres through Mid Day Meal and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) schemes from April 2021, the Gujarat government commenced its distribution to school students only around September-October.

Prasad said, “Gujarat being the Decentralised Procurement State (DPS) for wheat and rice, FCI procure both fortified and normal rice from Punjab and Haryana and store at their godowns in the state.” Under the DPS, foodgrains are procured, stored and distributed by the state government under the targeted public distribution system (TPDS) and other welfare schemes.


In Gujarat, schools remained closed since March 16, 2020, and have not reopened completely. Since it was not possible to provide cooked meal under Mid Day Meal scheme to students, a Food Security Allowance (FSA) was being provided to all beneficiaries from Class 1 to  8 by the Education Department starting from March 23, 2020, following the advice of the Central Government.

Under the NFSA Act 2013 and Mid Day meal Rules 2015, wheat or rice and cooking cost is provided to nearly 51 lakh students of Class 1 to 8. As per state government’s decision, 100 grams of wheat or rice for students of Class 1 to 5 along with cooking cost of Rs 4.97 per day is provided.

For upper primary students (Class 6 to 8), 150 gm foodgrain and Rs 7.45 cooking cost per child per day is provided. While the foodgrain is distributed through fair price shops, the cooking cost is deposited directly into parents’ accounts through direct benefit transfer.  For the current academic year, distribution of grain and cooking cost was conducted in two lots while the process of procurement for August and September has been initiated.

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