Rice: Fortified Rice Added to Global Food Assistance Programs

©Creative Commons Yamanaka Tamaki

For the past three years, USA Rice has worked closely with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and their partner, The World Food Programme (WFP) to help formulate specifications for a nutritionally superior rice product for use in global food assistance programs.  At long last, the dialogue, field testing, and peer review, has borne fruit as USAID recently announced the publication of a new commodity specification document for the procurement of fortified rice that can address not just hunger but the long-term debilitating effects of malnutrition.   

While fortified rice has been approved for use in global feeding programs for the past two years, only extruded fortified rice was specified in the commodity document, therefore limiting the amount of fortified rice actually used.

As of December 31, 2017, the use of coated fortified rice has been incorporated into the document as an alternate and equally effective micronutrient fortified product.  This means more fortified product availability, greater economies of scale, and efficiency for U.S. government food assistance programs.

Additionally, some of the other rice specifications have been updated and simplified, including new specifications allowing vendors to identify suitable packaging that limits infestation and waste.

“While the use of all rice in global feeding programs has increased significantly over the last year to more than 100,000 MT, we believe the addition of coated fortified rice to feeding programs will result in greater use of fortified rice in all food aid programs,” said Bobby Hanks, chairman of the USA Rice Food Aid Subcommittee.

In the last year, the USDA’s McGovern Dole Food For Education Program went from using negligible amounts to more than 25,000 MT of fortified rice in School Feeding programs in Asia and Africa.

“Reducing and eliminating rampant malnutrition is a goal of all global food assistance programs, and implementing agencies will be looking to fortified rice as a key component of food rations in their ongoing and future programming,” Hanks said.

“USA Rice is pleased with the timely release of the new commodity document and the ongoing strength of its partnership with both USAID and USDA that made this possible,” said Sarah Moran, USA Rice vice president international.  “While the specification is in effect as of the new year, we will continue to work through a six-month transition period allowing for any new feedback on the specification, particularly on packaging and product shelf life.”

Moran said she anticipates the trend of increased rice usage in these programs will continue in 2018 which provides a lift for the entire U.S. industry.

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