- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his Independence Day speech this August 15, declared that all beneficiaries of the public distribution system (PDS) and midday meal schemes will receive fortified rice by 2024 “to help fight malnutrition”.
- The National Family Health Survey 2019-20 shows, more than half of the children and women are anaemic—a condition that often results from nutritional deficiencies and has become increasingly prevalent in recent years.
- This scheme was launched on a pilot basis in 2019 for one district each in 15 selected states. Despite 2022 being the deadline, the pilot has so far been rolled out in only nine states:
- Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh.
- Kerala, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand are likely to initiate the scheme soon; but Karnataka, Assam and Punjab have not made plans.
- rice fortification involves grinding broken rice into powder and mixing it with a concoction of micronutrients such as iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 that are usually missing in our diet.
- Using an extruder machine, this blended rice flour is then reconstituted into kernels which resemble milled rice in size, shape and colour.
- These fortified kernels are then blended with regular rice at mills at a recommended proportion of one kernel per 100 g of rice and distributed for regular consumption.
What is fortification??
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), fortification is the process of increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, such as vitamins or minerals, in a food item to improve its nutritional value and provide public health benefits at minimal cost.
- Food fortification is identified as one of the strategies used by WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization to tackle nutrient deficiencies at a global level with more than 86 countries working on cereal grain fortification like rice, wheat and maize amongst others.
Why fortified rice?
- It refers to the addition of key vitamins and minerals to increasethe nutritional value of rice.
- The fortified Ricegenerally contains Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Iron and Zinc.
- There are several methodsavailable for the fortification of rice and the method chosen depends on the local technology available, costs and other preferences.
- Rice can be fortified by the addition of a micronutrient powderto the rice or spraying of the surface of ordinary rice grains with vitamins and minerals.
- India is one of the largest producers of rice, and accounts for 22 per cent of the world’s rice production.
- It is also a leading consumer, with a per capita rice consumption of 6.8 kg/ month.
- As per DFPD, pan-India rollout of the fortified rice scheme will require the country to produce 0.35 million tonnes of fortified kernels and 35 million tonnes of fortified rice.
- As of now, India produces 150 tonnes of kernels and 15,000 tonnes of fortified rice to meet the requirement of the districts where the scheme is being implemented on a pilot basis.
- Scaling up of the scheme might also be a problem as rice millers who have participated in the pilot are losing faith in FCI.
- The reason for the delay in procurement is that there is currently adequate buffer stock of fortified rice in the specified districts.
- When the pilot scheme was first rolled out in 2019, DFPD emphasised on quality assurance, which is key to the success of the scheme.
Doubts on Quality
- When the pilot scheme was first rolled out in 2019, DFPD emphasized on quality assurance, which is key to the success of the scheme.
- For instance, kernel producers must provide a “certificate of analysis” with every batch they sell. The end product is also subject to random sampling by district authorities.
- These measures, DFPD notes, are to prevent “adulteration” or deliberate contamination of fortified rice. But millers and kernel producers say they are not properly followed at the moment.
- The spice used in households across the subcontinent is the only natural source of curcumin—the compound that gives turmeric its golden hue and its fabled healing qualities.
- Turmeric is one of the fastest growing Dietary supplements. As per an estimate, the global market for curcumin— the substance that imparts turmeric its colour and Therapeutic qualities— valued at US $58.4 million in 2019, is expected to witness a growth of 12.7 per cent by 2027.
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa), native to India, has been studied extensively for its effects against viral diseases in recent decades, but the covid-19 pandemic has renewed interest in the spice and in curcumin, both of which have been tested as a treatment for the viral disease, with encouraging results.
- In a covid-19 hospital in Maharashtra, patients who received a combination of 525 mg of curcumin and 2.5 mg of piperine (naturally occurring complex organic molecules containing nitrogen) twice a day, recovered faster from symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, and breathlessness.
- They were able to maintain oxygen saturation above 94 per cent on ambient air, and had better clinical outcomes compared to control group members who received a probiotic instead.
- The treatment also reduced the duration of hospitalisation and resulted in fewer deaths, researchers report in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology published on May 28, 2021.
- Despite its positive results against nearly all kinds of diseases, turmeric is not an approved allopathic drug for any ailment.
- This is because curcumin metabolises very fast, is unstable and bioavailability (duration for which the substance is present in blood) of the compound is poor.
- The positive effect of curcumin remains long after it has disappeared from circulation and this suggests some kind of an immune memory effect.
- India produces 78 per cent of the world’s turmeric.
- The country’s turmeric production saw a near consistent growth since Independence till 2010-11 after which it started fluctuating. The pandemic has given a boost to the crop, with the production witnessing a rise of 23 per cent—from 957,130 tonnes in 2018-19 to 1,178,750 tonnes in 2019-20—in the first year of the pandemic.
- The top five turmeric producing states of India in 2020-21 are Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
- Of the turmeric produced in 2019-20, India exported 1,36,000 tonnes (nearly 12 per cent) at R1,216.4 crore.
- The year 2020-21, was even better, when the export of turmeric grew by a huge 42 per cent in terms of volume during the first six months itself, as per a press release by the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry on January 29, 2021.
- Despite being the biggest producer of turmeric, there is an increasing trend of import. According to the Spices Board of India, the import of turmeric has increased from 15,330 tonnes in 2015-16 to 28,580 tonnes in 2019-20. Most of the import is from Vietnam.
- The extraction and food processing industries in India prefer to get turmeric from outside since it is cheaper. While on one hand, this leaves India’s premium product free to be exported at a higher price, the domestic market is unable to absorb any extra production in the country.
- Turmeric is cheap and relatively safe to consume and its anti-inflammatory property can combat the cytokine storm in COVID-19 patients, says a 2021 study in the journal Life Sciences.
Many hues of Haldi
- Haldi travelled from India to Arab land and the eastern and western coasts of Africa circa 7-13 centuries. It is mentioned in ancient texts of Ayurved as early as 3rd century before the birth of Christ.
- Turmeric not only has a prominent place in our kitchens, but also plays a significant role in many auspicious rites and rituals.
- In the Hindi Heartland the phrase commonly used for betrothal of the daughter is haath peele karna. The ritual of kanyadaan— handing over the daughter to the bridegroom— is preceded by applying turmeric paste on the bride’s hands.
- The bridegroom too is given a turmeric bath on the day of the marriage before he embarks on the journey to the bride’s place.
- The tint of yellow imparted by this root is believed to ensure good fortune. Traditionally, the invitations sent to close relatives and friends included a few grains of yellow rice.
- There used to be one day in the year— Vasant Panchami—when every thing was coloured yellow by what else but turmeric.
- In Uttarkhand, pichhorha dying is an essential ritual preceding the marriage. Cloth is dyed yellow with haldi and hand-printed with traditional designs—spirals, swastika, floral patterns.
- The red colour for spirals, swastika, floral patterns is obtained by mixing turmeric with nimbu ka ras and crimson flowers petals.
- Kumkum ka tika is prepared with turmeric as its kesariya colour is associated with valour and spirit of selfless sacrifice. While ochre (gerua) symbolises renunciation, haldi celebrates life.
- In some regions, turmeric leaves are used as a wrap to envelop the food (mostly fish) that is being steamed or pan-grilled.
- Marco Polo refer to Haldi as “Poor man’s saffron”.
- A delectable haldi ki sabzi is cooked in Rajasthan in winters and valued for its restorative properties.
- From zarda—the sweet meatless pulav in Awadh to semolina-based kesari bhaat in southern India, haldi is indispensable.
- Turmeric consumption in different forms is on the rise in the West and it is time for a haldi fad in India, too.
- Turmeric has been re-positioned as a superfood that strengthens the body rather than a common kitchen ingredient that adds flavour to your food. Our haldi doodh has become ‘golden milk’ and innovations like ‘turmeric shots’ have been hyped up.
- The turmeric fad has already begun in the West. This is a perfect time to turn it into a fad domestically as well.
- For this, first the farmer needs technical support for cultivation.
- The second would be to ensure that what reaches our home is unadulterated. For this, the supply chain would need to be spruced up.
- The third would be to increase cultivation in different parts of the country to ensure easier access to the rhizome in various forms.
- The fourth would be to ensure that value-added products are available.
- In June 2020, Mother Dairy launched a butterscotch flavoured haldi doodh. In April, Amul too had launched a similar product.
- HARMFUL CHEMICALS have become a constant companion of modern life. They are used to sanitise houses, power bulbs and tube lights and they even find safe refuge in medicines, ointments and the like.
- While these potentially dangerous products are handled with extreme care at home, similar caution is not exercised when throwing them out with household garbage.
- In 2020, researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and IIT Bombay analysed fine particles from eight dump sites across the country, including Delhi, Mumbai Kadapa (Andhra Pradesh), Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.
- They found a significant level of toxic heavy metals and persistent organic contaminants like pesticides in these particles. There is a very real possibility that a large portion of this toxicity is due to dumping of domestic hazardous waste.
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