By M S Vidyanandan
Kerala has requested the Central government to provide red-coloured fortified kernels for fortifying the rice supplied through ration shops. This is to make the rice more appealing to people and also to counter fake social media campaigns on ‘plastic rice.’
“At present white-coloured kernels are used for fortifying rice supplied through ration shops. A significant portion of the supply is the local Chambavari rice which has a brownish-red colour. Now, white fortified kernels are mixed with it during fortification. Ignorant people may remove white kernels while rinsing the rice before cooking,” said a source in the food and civil supplies department.
“The Centre has in principle agreed to the request. A formal communication was sent by the Supplyco in this regard recently,” he added. Supplyco is the state government agency in charge of paddy procurement. With the help of private millers, Supplyco produces rice and supplies it to ration shops.
The state requires about 15.25 lakh MT of rice for supply through the public distribution system. Of this, about 4.50 lakh MT of rice is locally produced Chambavari rice and the rest is procured from the Food Corporation of India.
Misleading messages over social media too were a reason for choosing red kernels, the officer said. “Some vested interests propagated a false campaign on ‘plastic rice’ to tarnish the government’s image. Legal action will be taken against them,” he said.
The Kerala government had earlier raised stiff opposition against the Central government’s directive to provide fortified rice through ration shops. But the state changed its stand following the Centre’s strict direction and a favourable report from the expert team designated by the state health department.
He said fortified rice is safe to eat except for certain vulnerable groups. Hence the state excluded families having sickle cell anaemia or thalassemia patients from the fortified rice.
This article has been republished from The New Indian Express.