Rice Fortification Project for the Poor

Speech | 2 December 2010

Speech by Barbara Lochmann, ADB Senior Social Sector Specialist, at the launch in Kerawang and Bekasi Districts, Cikarang, Indonesia

Distinguished Guests,
Vice Bupati Bekasi, H.M. Daripmulyana,
Vice Bupati Karawang, Mr. Saleh Effendi,
Deputy Minister for Human Resources and Cultural Affairs, BAPPENAS, Mrs. Sardjunani;
Director Health and Community Nutrition, BAPPENAS, Dr. Arum Atmawikarta,
First Secretary for Agriculture of the Embassy of Japan, Mr. Toru Semba,
Partners from KFI, Dr. Suroso and MI Dr. Karyadi
Collegues from the UN agencies and academic institutions, Collegues from ADB and representatives from the media

On behalf of ADB I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of you for the launch of the pilot project on Rice Fortification for the Poor. It is a great honour for ADB to participate in this important event. Reducing the impact of micronutrient malnutrition is a key element of achieving the Millennium Development Goals and has been identified in the Copenhagen consensus as among the most cost effective strategies to achieve MDGs. ADB has played a leading role in making Asia an active hub of activity for micronutrient interventions and food fortification.

Rising food prices, especially for rice the main staple food, are a concern in relation to poverty and malnutrition. Price increases for these foods imply that not only the poor's food security is at risk but also their nutritional status since families will be unable to purchase nutritious food that contains essential micronutrients and animal proteins. Adding iron, folic acid and other micronutrients to rice is one of the most cost-effective strategies for delivering micronutrients to low income populations. Iron deficiency anemia is the most widely prevalent nutritional deficiency in the world and its effects on maternal mortality, poor learning among school children and work productivity are substantial. In Indonesia, vulnerable households can afford only small amounts of iron-rich foods such as animal proteins.

Years of experience have demonstrated that if food fortification is implemented for its public health benefit, collaboration between the public and private sector is needed if both sides are to experience a win-win situation. The public sector mandates the fortification and sets minimum standards and the private sector produces a quality product at a minimal additional cost to the consumer but maintaining necessary profit margins.

The Government of Japan through the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction Trust Fund financed more than ten grant on food fortification, mainly focusing on salt and flour fortification in Central, South and Southeast Asia. Since 2005, the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction assisted the Government of Indonesia with two grant projects. The first Project on "Enriching Lives of the Urban Poor through Food Fortification for $ 1.7 million aimed to contribute to the reduction of iron deficiency anemia (IDA), and Vitamin A deficiency (VAD), especially among low-income the urban poor. The Project successfully produced local micronutrient fortificants (MMF) or "sprinkles", and proofed the effectiveness of palm oil fortification with Vitamin A. The pilot was an important catalyst in preparing mandatory oil fortification by 2011 . Based on the successful results of the project several organizations including the German Agency for Technical Cooperation and GAIN provided funding to scale-up the oil fortification.

The second Project on Rice Fortification for the Poor was approved for $2 million to prevent and reduce iron deficiency anemia among the poor. The purpose is to assess the feasibility, cost and impact of distributing iron enriched rice under the RASKIN program. The Project will be piloted in Bekasi and Karawang.

It is a promising pilot to help to reduce anemia deficiency among vulnerable populations. Improved nutrition is a key strategy to optimize investments in other sectors such as education. ADB remains committed to support the Government in their efforts to reduce poverty and improve nutrition. On behalf of ADB, I would like to commend BAPPENAS for their leadership in this effort and I am confident that with the collaboration of all partners the Project will successfully achieve its intended outputs.

Thank you very much for your attention.