… project will help distribute fortified rice through social safety net programmes

Chhimi Dema

The SAARC Development Fund (SDF) approved USD 8.58 million to improve nutrition through fortified rice in Bhutan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

The project, called “Scaling up rice through social safety net programmes in Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka” was submitted by the World Food Programme (WFP) as a regional project to be co-financed by SDF under SDF’s social window.

Through this project, Bhutan will receive USD 2.25 million(about Nu 168.5 million).  Nepal and Sri Lanka will get USD 2.75 million and USD 3.58 respectively.

The project will scale up the distribution of fortified rice through national social safety net programmes and school feeding programme to address micronutrient deficiencies among the population in the three countries.

SDF’s Chief Executive Officer, Sunil Motiwal (PhD) said: “We feel that fortifying rice has great potential to help fight hidden hunger—a form of malnutrition—on a large scale and improve the quality of life of the people in these three countries where rice is a staple food.”

The three-year project will benefit 800,000 school children in Bhutan and Sri Lanka by introducing fortified rice through the school feeding programme.

In Nepal, 200,000 people among the vulnerable groups will benefit through the social safety net programme in remote areas.

Sunil Motiwal said that the programme envisions training 5,000 teachers and school caterers on rice fortification and food safety practices. Thousands of government officials will receive training on food safety and quality assurance.

“This project is very much in line with our mandate of promoting the welfare of the people of the SAARC region, to improve their quality of life, to accelerate economic growth and social progress, and alleviate poverty,” he said.

The project was approved during the 33rd SDF Board Meeting held last month.