A round table virtual meeting was held recently to discuss and plan for implementation of food fortification in the State of Meghalaya. The virtual meeting was chaired by the Chief Secretary, Meghalaya, Shri. M S Rao and organised by the Commissionerate of Food, Safety (Health & Family Welfare) in collaboration with Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT) and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).
In the meeting, Shri. Rao asked the Department of Education, Social Welfare and Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs to come up with a clear action plan with definite time frame to start implementing the food fortification in MDM, ICDS and PDS respectively. It was suggested to include fortified edible oil and salt in fair price shops as this will ensure availability of fortified oils and salt for the vulnerable population and also other safety net programmes. The Commissionerate of Food Safety, (Health & Family Welfare) has been asked to develop a plan to promote procurement and production of fortified staples in the open markets in the state.
The meeting convened by Shri. P Sampath Kumar, Commissioner & Secretary to the Government of Meghalaya, Health and Family Department etc and Commissioner of Food Safety, Meghalaya was participated by Shri. Pravin Bakshi, Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies, Ms. Inoshi Sharma, Director SBCD/FFRC, FSSAI, Col. Pramod Shahaji Dahitule, Director, Eastern and North Eastern Region, FSSAI, Kolkata, Shri. Ambrose Marak, Director of School Elementary and Literacy, Education Department, Shri. D D Shira, Director, Social Welfare, officers from Health and Veterinary Department from Meghalaya, FSSAI Regional Officer, Guwahati, etc alongwith the representatives from KHPT, GAIN and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
Ms. Inoshi Sharma briefed FSSAI’s food fortification policy, current status of micronutrient deficiencies in Meghalaya and status of food fortification in the state as well. Sharing of experiences related to wheat flour, edible oil, milk and rice fortification across India was taken up by Ms. Deepti Gulati, Head of Programs, GAIN and Dr. Siddharth Waghulkar, Deputy Head-Nutrition and School Feeding unit, WFP. Ms. Pooja Trivedi, Senior Manager from KHPT informed that the Commissionerate of Food Safety, Meghalaya and KHPT have been closely working since 2019 and highlighted the status of food fortification in the state along with prospects. Representatives from the safety net programmes namely MDM, ICDS and PDS updated the Chief Secretary on the status of inclusion of fortified staples in these programmes.
Shri. M S Rao, in his keynote address stated that food fortification is a cost-effective strategy to eradicate the problem of micronutrient malnutrition. He advised that in safety net programmes like MDM and ICDS, procurement of fortified wheat flour, edible oil, rice and salt should be encouraged. Shri. Rao suggested the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs explore the possibility of expanding their basket by including fortified edible oil and salt in PDS. He also emphasized on the importance of intensive consumer awareness programmes on food fortification to improve demand of fortified staples in the state. He asked all the safety net programmes implementing departments to come up with a clear action plan with a definite time frame to adopt food fortification in their programmes. It may be mentioned that the Commissionerate of Food Safety (Health & FW) Meghalaya with technical support from KHPT-GAIN has been leading fortification intervention in the State since July 2019. During the process sensitization programmes for Food Safety Regulators, the officials of the Education, Social Welfare, Education and Veterinary Departments, wholesalers of rice and oils on fortification have been conducted. Technical training on fortification was also given to the Flour Mill owners and dairy officials in the state.