DHAKA – A new study has shown that consuming fortified rice can significantly reduce anaemia and zinc deficiencies among the poorest women in Bangladesh. Conducted by the research centre icddr,b and on behalf of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the study measured the impact of providing rice enriched with micronutrients to women participating in the Government’s Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) programme. The study also found that fortified rice, when combined with training and cash grants for investment, can also contribute to women’s empowerment.
The study determined that the prevalence of anaemia dropped by 4.8 percent and zinc deficiency reduced by 6 percent among women consuming fortified rice. The research compared VGD women who received 30kg of fortified rice and an investment grant of BDT 15,000 (US$185), with those who received 30kg of normal (non-fortified) rice per month.
This is the first time that the use of fortified rice in a government safety net programme has been tested in Bangladesh. The VGD programme reaches more than one million ultra-poor women and their families, totalling about five million people, giving it enormous potential reach.
“The findings are very promising,” said Christa Räder, WFP Representative in Bangladesh. “Now we have a much better understanding of how integrating fortified rice into government safety net programmes can help improve women’s micronutrient status.”
The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs has allocated more than US$1 million to distribute fortified rice in 35 upazilas (regions) covered by the VGD programme in the fiscal year 2017-2018. The Scaling-up Rice Fortification Initiative is supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bangladesh and implemented by various government agencies in collaboration with WFP.
QUICK FACTS: Findings of the study
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About Fortified Rice
Rice fortification provides an immediate, ready-to-use product that helps to address micronutrient deficiencies at a large scale. Fortified rice kernels look, taste and cook like ordinary rice but are enhanced with six essential vitamins and minerals: Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Iron and Zinc. They are mixed with ordinary rice at a ratio of 1:100.
WFP is the world's leading humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
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For more information, please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@example.org):
Christa Räder, Representative, WFP Bangladesh, Tel. +880-171-159-6032
Line Sofie Adser, Communications Officer, WFP Bangladesh, Tel. +880-2-9183022 ext. 2164