PATH’s fortified rice project in Myanmar seeks to decrease micronutrient deficiencies in the population and create income generating opportunities along the way. With generous support from Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund/United National office for Project Services (LIFT/UNOPS), our team in Myanmar is working to bring nutritious fortified rice to market by creating a favorable policy environment, developing a local supply chain and distribution channels and generating sustainable consumer demand.
We aim to improve the nutritional value of Myanmar’s staple food without requiring people to change their consumption habits and without genetically modified substances. So far we have broad support within government and among key stakeholders, including the World Food Program, UNICEF and Myanmar Consumer’s Union. Government and UN agencies, local and international NGOs are meeting regularly to develop technical standards for this new product and processes to regulate quality production.
At the same time, we are working to recruit local private sector partners. We have identified the first fortified grain producer and blender-fabricator and are reaching out to additional rice millers. These local companies are benefiting from PATH’s technical advice and assistance in importing the machines necessary to produce the fortified rice. They are producing nutritious rice, creating new jobs and generating increased economic activity.
PATH and our partners are introducing fortified rice to consumers in Yangon and in targeted areas across the country. The new product is indistinguishable from regular rice for most people, with the same look, smell and flavor. A multifaceted marketing and awareness campaign is appealing to people’s interest in purchasing fortified rice to bolster health and nutrition. At the same time, we are lining up distribution through existing food and nutrition programs supported by the Myanmar government and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
Solid evidence base of more than 30 clinical trials, acceptability and feasibility studies, and market introductions from across the globe gives us confidence that fortified rice will be an effective tool to improve nutrition in Myanmar. Stay tuned for project updates.