Regional Experts Meet In Bangkok To Discuss Scale-Up Of Rice Fortification In Asia

BANGKOK – Adding essential vitamins and minerals to rice is a cost-effective way to address micronutrient deficiencies in many Asian countries and an international conference bringing together nearly 200 experts, including delegations from nine countries across the region, aims to determine concrete action to scale up rice fortification.

BANGKOK – Adding essential vitamins and minerals to rice is a cost-effective way to address micronutrient deficiencies in many Asian countries and an international conference bringing together nearly 200 experts, including delegations from nine countries across the region, aims to determine concrete action to scale up rice fortification.
 
Between 16 and 19 September, the conference “Scaling Up Rice Fortification in Asia” will host discussions in Bangkok about the latest evidence on the effectiveness of rice fortification, best practices from countries where rice is already being fortified, and the latest developments in technologies and policies. Countries who are attending are all planning or already working to introduce the distribution of fortified rice, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
 
“Fortification of basic foodstuffs isn’t a new concept,” said Kenro Oshidari, Regional Director for Asia of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). “Wheat flour, maize flour and salt are routinely enriched with micronutrients in many countries – often with government regulations enforcing the practice. It’s been demonstrated that it is possible and economically viable to do this on a large scale, with significant public health benefits. Progress in technology means that now this is a possibility for rice fortification as well.”
 
Across the globe, more than two billion people are affected by micronutrient deficiencies, which rob them of the possibility to achieve their full potential in leading a healthy and productive life. Rice is the staple food for three billion people in the world – most of them in Asia. Rice fortification is an ideal platform to help people get the micronutrients they need, without having to change their eating habits. It has the potential to reach a high proportion of the population and is an important addition to other efforts to improve people’s nutrition.
 
Delegates will have the opportunity to identify factors that enable or hinder the scale-up of rice fortification, discuss strategies for overcoming bottlenecks or leveraging success factors, with the aim of identifying practical next steps to expand rice fortification programmes.
 
The conference is co-organized by the Food Fortification Initiative (FFI), the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the Micronutrient Initiative (MI), PATH, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WFP.
 
 
Participants include government and private sector representatives, as well as experts in nutrition, public health, food technology and development issues, and donors to development and humanitarian activities. Representatives from the private sector, such as rice traders, millers and equipment suppliers, will also be present, underlining their essential role in scaling up rice fortification.
 
 
*** Note to editors ***
 
Journalists and editors: for photos and requests for interviews with experts during the course of the conference, please contact Silke Buhr (WFP), silke.buhr@wfp.org, +66(0)81-701-9208.