Including fortified rice in social assistance programmes represents an enormous opportunity to improve nutrition in India, where micronutrient deficiencies are widespread and programmes reach millions of people. But the unique country context, large population, decentralized governance, fragmented rice industry and concerned activist community pose significant challenges for smooth scale-up.
Against this backdrop, WFP supported national and state governments of India in a unique ‘pilot-to-scale’ approach, carrying out four sequential large-scale pilots to test and demonstrate the feasibility and effectiveness of including fortified rice in different social assistance programmes. At the same time, working across the value chain, WFP supported standard setting; local production of fortified rice; integration into government distribution systems; and information, education and communication in different contexts, gradually building the momentum for integration of fortified rice into social assistance programmes country wide.
After a decade of pilots, engagement and advocacy, in 2021 the national government committed to mainstreaming fortified rice into all three of its food-based social assistance programmes. Fortified rice is now gradually being introduced into programmes, so far reaching over 400 million people, and the country has become self-sufficient in fortified kernel production. This brief shares nine insights from this global success story of scaling up food fortification as a strategy to reduce micronutrient deficiencies.