Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution Ashwini Kumar Choubey on Saturday inaugurated a chemical lab set up by state-owned FCI here in Haryana with nearly Rs 5 crore investment and said four more such laboratories will be set up across the country.
FCI has developed its first state-of-art laboratory for in-house testing of food grain samples at the Institute of Food Security, which is an in-house training centre.
During the event, the minister also launched short films, radio jingles, and social media collaterals on rice fortification.
Fortification means deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients in food to improve its quality.
Addressing the event, Choubey said the government has ensured the country’s food security and is now making efforts to provide nutritional security.
He said the FCI has set up this modern chemical lab at this institute and four more labs will be opened at zonals level.
To provide relief to the people during the COVID pandemic, Choubey highlighted that the government provided an additional 600 lakh tonnes of foodgrains free of cost to 80 crore beneficiaries covered under the food law as well as migrants, costing nearly Rs 2 lakh crore to the exchequer.
He complimented the FCI and other state agencies involved in undertaking this challenging task.
Talking about rice fortification, he said the Prime Minister, in his speech on the country’s 75th Independence Day, had announced that the fortified rice will be made available under every government programme by the year 2024.
Choubey said the government is implementing this programme in three phases and making efforts to reach the target set by the prime minister by 2023 itself to supply fortified rice under all the central welfare schemes including food law and mid-day meals.
He said the government is also planning to make fortified rice available in markets.
Iron, folic acid and vitamin B-12 are being added to the rice fortification process.
FCI’s CMD Atish Chandra said the company has labs at its various godowns to check the physical properties of foodgrains like moisture.
“This is the first lab for testing on chemical parameters. It has been set up at a cost of Rs 4.8 crore,” he said, adding that four more chemical labs would be set up.
Chandra said the FCI, the government’s nodal agency for procurement and distribution of foodgrains, has ensured food security of the nation, and prices of wheat and rice have remained stable.
To further improve quality, he said the corporation is taking various measures, including the start of age-testing of rice procured by it post milling.
On rice fortification, he said around 16 lakh tonnes of fortified rice has been made available for the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme and mid-day meal (MDM) programme.
By March 2024, the target is to cover all welfare schemes including National Food Security Act (NFSA), he added.
During the first phase, till March 2022, 35 lakh tonnes of fortified rice is targeted to be distributed through ICDS and MDM schemes. In the second phase, till March 2023, 175 lakh tonnes of fortified rice will be distributed and in the third phase till March 2024, 350 lakh tonnes will be distributed, an official statement said.
Moitreyi Mohanty, director of the institute, elaborated about the efforts behind the setting up of the lab.