Bangladesh has initiated to increase the production of bio-fortified crops aiming to reduce nutrient deficiencies of the people.
Industries minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun told a virtual global summit on Friday.
“Zinc-enriched rice highly helps fulfil zinc deficiency in human body. The government is taking measures to boost output and consumption of zinc-enriched rice.”
Mr Humayun said this while addressing the summit styled ‘A Resilient Food System for a Time of Crisis: The Role of Fortification’.
Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Micro Nutrient Forum co-hosted the webinar.
Bangladesh government, GAIN and other development partners have been working jointly to meet the nutritional needs of the people.
“Bangladesh has been on the right track to achieve the global nutritional indicators,” cited the minister.
He said Bangladesh had made a great leap forward in strengthening food security and the development of health and nutrition sectors.
“The country has achieved global laurels regarding its achievement in reducing malnutrition,” he added.
Mr Humayun said the government has fortified social safety net programmes by providing the poor with food and cash assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is implementing a project for enrichment of vitamin-A and mineral in food, he mentioned.
A 2013 law for mandatory enrichment of vitamin-A in edible oils and the Iodised Salt Act-2020 are among the government measures to ensure nutrition.
Mr Humayun said the National Food and Nutrition Security Policy/NFNSP 2020 will be incorporated in the eighth five-year plan.
Following the state initiatives, he said, about 95 per cent of packed and 41 per cent of drum-packed oils have been brought under the vitamin-A enrichment programme.
The government is also moving with a plan to enrich vitamin-A in flour, made of wheat and maize, to significantly improve nutrition of grass-roots people.
Forty-four per cent of under-five kids and 57 per cent of women in Bangladesh undergo various complications for zinc deficiency, according to HarvestPlus.
Zinc is very essential for adolescent girls and pregnant women while children require 3.0-5.0-milligram of zinc and women need 8.0-9.0 milligram daily.
It prevents the risk of disease, the global body said.
The Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in alliance with non-government agencies developed the world’s first bio-fortified zinc rice variety in 2013.
The BRRI has so far released four zinc-enriched varieties, BRRI dhan-62 and BRRI dhan-72, for Aman season and BRRI dhan-64 and BRRI dhan-74 for Boro.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University released a hybrid zinc-enriched variety, BU Aromatic Rice-01, with HarvestPlus’s support.
“The zinc-enriched rice varieties also taste good,” according to nutritionists.
USAID chief nutritionist Shawn Baker moderated the event where Indonesian development planning affairs minister Dr Suharso Monoarfa, Nigerian health minister Dr Osagie Ehanire and industrial and trade minister of Mozambique Carlos Mesquita, among others, participated.
Health minister of the Gambia Ahmadou Lamin Samayeh, African Union commissioner on rural economy and agriculture development Josefa Leonel Correa Sacko and agriculture minister of Indian state of Bihar Dr Prem Kumar also attended.