Union Food Secretary recommends increased production of fortified rice and millets like ragi in Karnataka

India’s Union Food Secretary, Sudhanshu Pandey suggested the state government of Karnatka should encourage production of fortified rice locally and undertake fortification of rice at milling stage itself. He said FRK (fortified rice kernels) units should be set up to achieve the long-term objective of 100 per cent fortified rice for aspirational and heavy burdened districts.

Karnataka, being a large producer of ragi, should also ramp up production of millets to meet the requirement of other states, the Union Food Secretary said in a meeting with state officials. Pandey, in the meeting with the state chief secretary and other officials, said the Karnataka government should also tie up with the Indian Institute of Millets in Hyderabad for increased market penetration of millet products through startups.

“The Food Secretary further informed that the requirement of millets of other states can also be met by Karnataka with the Centre bearing all the handling and transportation costs,” an official statement said. The state should ramp up millets output as 2023 has been declared as the International year of Millets, he added.

Further, Pandey asked the state government to rope in its health department to monitor health development of children to get benefits under the Integrated Child Development Scheme and Midday Meal Scheme under which fortified rice distribution is undertaken. This apart, Pandey said the central government has already approved procurement of local varieties of paddy in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada for self-consumption by the state.

On the state’s request to release advance subsidy, the Union Food Secretary asked the Karnataka government to submit their provisional expenditure before commencement of procurement operations based on which advances can be released. The state government suggested having one unified software for procurement operations to which Pandey said the same is under consideration. With Karnataka being one of the largest producers of sugar, Pandey suggested that the ethanol production and blending be encouraged as the state is one of the eight identified states for introduction of 100 ethanol bunks in metros.

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