Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition Global Program

Rice Fortification

A unique vehicle to achieve nutritional and social impact

Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals have lifelong consequences on health, productivity, and mental development, particularly for women and children. More than two billion people around the world suffer from this “hidden hunger,” which places a heavy burden on the health and economy of nations.

One approach to alleviating micronutrient malnutrition is food fortification, the enrichment of foods people regularly eat with essential vitamins and minerals that their diets often lack.

Rice—the staple food of nearly half the world’s population—presents a unique opportunity as a vehicle to deliver these essential micronutrients through fortification. PATH, with our partners, has played a leading role in making this innovation ready for large-scale adoption and contributed to fortified rice being made available to millions through public and private sector channels in Brazil, India, and Myanmar.

Enriching a staple food for half the world’s population

PATH has played a catalytic role in the rice fortification field by advancing the Ultra Rice® technology. Fortified kernels produced using this technology are made with rice flour and micronutrients—including iron, zinc, vitamin A, thiamin, folic acid, and other B vitamins—that can be matched to local dietary needs. When these kernels are blended with non-fortified rice, typically at a ratio of 1:100, the result is fortified rice that is nearly identical to unfortified rice in aroma, taste, and texture.

Learn more in this short video.

Accelerating scale up of rice fortification

Rice fortification has emerged over the past decade as a cost-effective, culturally appropriate strategy to address micronutrient malnutrition in countries where rice is a staple food. Drawing on our extensive experience in global health, nutrition, and rice fortification, PATH collaborates with partners to accelerate supply chain development, demand generation, and advocacy to create sustainable markets and deliver significant nutritional impact especially among vulnerable populations.

PATH brings a range of capabilities towards successful rice fortification initiatives, including:

  • Developing and implementing national and regional rice fortification introduction and scaling strategies.
  • Designing and deploying category branding, quality management, social marketing, and governance frameworks for fortified foods in non-mandated environments through cross-sector coalitions.
  • Providing technical assistance to build capacity in local supply chain actors, including in fortified kernel extrusion, blending equipment manufacturing, and fortified rice blending processes.
  • Specifying fortified rice formulations adapted to local priorities, regulations, and preferences.

The way forward

Rice fortification holds the promise of significant impact beyond nutrition and into the broader areas of economic development, integration of agriculture and nutrition, and promotion of a strong rice value chain in many countries where rice is deeply woven into the local culture and economy. Billions of people consume rice on a daily basis and micronutrient deficiencies continue to place a heavy burden on global health. By promoting widespread access to high-quality, affordable fortified rice, PATH is working toward bringing essential vitamins and minerals within reach for people around the world.

Rice fortification resources

The tools and resources we have developed from the accumulated knowledge and good practices for catalyzing fortified rice programs are accessible below.

More resources will be made available as they are published.

Partners and funders

PATH’s work depends on strong partnerships with organizations such as the Abbott Fund, Akshaya Patra Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund of the United Nations, GAIN, Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, United States Department of Agriculture, and the United Nations World Food Programme.

For more information, please contact:
Peiman Milani, Project Director

Ultra Rice is a registered trademark of Bon Dente International, Inc., in the United States.