Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan on Saturday said the government will implement a new Centrally-sponsored pilot scheme for the fortification of rice and its distribution from the next Kharif season.
Fortification is a complementary strategy to fight malnutrition under which key vitamins and minerals are added to staple foods. The rice crop will be fortified with iron, folic acid, Vitamin A and Vitamin B-12 in rice mills before packaging for distribution.
The scheme, ‘Fortification of Rice and its Distribution under Public Distribution’, was given administrative approval on February 14, Paswan said. The pilot scheme has been approved with a total budget outlay of Rs 147.61 crore for a period of three years beginning 2019-20, and would be funded by the Centre in the ratio of 90:10 with respect to the Northeast, hilly and island states and 75:25 for the remaining ones.
It will focus on 15 districts from as many states and nine of them — Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Assam — have already agreed to the scheme and identified the districts. The remaining states have been requested to select the districts and work on the implementation by identifying agency mills for fortification of rice.
He also asserted that the government is going to implement the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme in the entire country by June 30, 2020. Addressing the media on Saturday, Paswan said that work on linking all the ration cards across the country with Aadhaar cards and organising the food grain distribution mechanism in its entirety through Point of Sale (PoS) machines is in the final stage.
“Work is being done on war footing to ensure ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme is implemented across the nation and for that, data of all ration cards will be connected to one server and any beneficiary, anywhere in the country, will be able to pick up their grain from any public distribution system of their choice after June 30, 2020,” Paswan said.