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Nigerian Delegation on a visit to Odisha to Study Rice Fortification Program

Bhubaneswar: A high-level delegation from Nigeria, comprising government officials from ministries and departments responsible for health, food security, food regulatory bodies, and the private sector, facilitated by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), are on a visit to Odisha to gain insights from the state’s experience in rice fortification.

The Nigerian Government has initiated a national strategy to combat micronutrient deficiencies, and as part of this strategy, they have authorized the fortification of rice, a staple food in the country. They are particularly interested in India’s successful implementation of rice fortification, which includes the creation of a robust ecosystem around fortified rice.

India’s approach involves strong government leadership that supports public delivery systems such as the Targeted Public Distribution System and other welfare schemes.

The goal of the Nigerian delegation’s visit is to acquire firsthand knowledge and experience, enabling them to efficiently launch a rice fortification pilot project in Kebbi State, utilizing the school feeding program as a delivery mechanism.

John Uruakpa, Director of the Federal Ministry of Health, Government of Nigeria, who is leading the delegation, stated, “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.”

The delegation also met with Anu Garg, Development Commissioner cum Additional Chief Secretary of Odisha, to discuss their objectives and seek insights from Odisha’s successful implementation of fortified rice in various food-based schemes.

Sharing about the Odisha’s success, Anu Garg said, “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. The State government is open to sharing its experiences and learning, especially towards addressing malnutrition and creating food security.”

Elisabeth Faure, Representative and Country Director for WFP in India, expressed excitement about hosting the Promoting Rice Fortification in Nigeria (PRiFN) South-South Learning Visit to India. The visit aims to learn from India’s successful implementation journey, including its successes, challenges, and lessons, and how these learnings can be adapted and implemented in the Nigerian context.

The Nigerian delegation will visit rice fortification sites to understand the process, machinery used, quality control measures, and safety standards. They will also engage with Indian food regulation officials to discuss regulatory aspects and compliance measures, as well as interact with policymakers involved in designing and implementing rice fortification programs.

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