Introducing Fortified Rice to Myanmar
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 local supply chain and distribution channels and generating sustainable consumer demand.
Public-private partnerships to tackle micronutrient deficiencies
We aim to improve the nutritional value of Myanmar’s staple food without requiring people to change their consumption habits and without using genetically modified substances. So far we have broad support within government and among key stakeholders, including the World Food Programme, 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. As part of these efforts, PATH is supporting the Ministry of Health and Sports in developing a National Rice Fortification Policy and assisting the Myanmar Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on national rice fortification technical guidelines.
At the same time, we are working to recruit local private sector partners. We have engaged a total of 8 fortified grain and rice producers and have worked with them to gain approval from the Myanmar FDA. 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.
Generating sustainable consumer demand
PATH and our partners are introducing fortified rice to consumers in Yangon and in targeted areas across the country. The 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 of fortified rice to vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations through existing food and nutrition programs supported by the Myanmar government and other social sector actors.
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.