The shiny rice varieties available in the market such as Miniket are usually made by polishing coarse rice and a shortfall of 16-17 lakh tonne of the food grain is being created in the polishing process, said Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder.
Aside from creating a shortfall, the polishing process is reducing the inherited nutritional value of rice, he said advising people not to eat polished rice at a programme marking the commercial launch of fortified rice at hotel InterContinental Dhaka on Thursday.
Rice fortification refers to deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients in rice to improve its nutritional quality and health benefits.
Inaugurating the commercial marketing of fortified rice at the event, the minister said, "Bangladesh is now self-sufficient in fish and meat including grain foods due to the development of improved varieties by agricultural researchers."
Previously, we were not self-sufficient in fish and meat but essential vitamins could be obtained from the country's rice. We need to think about why we have to add nutrients to rice now, he said.
"Private business organisations and paddy owners need to take initiative to produce and market the nutrient-rich rice so that common people can buy it from the market. It will not be possible to make nutrition available at the consumer level without their initiative and investment," Sadhan Chandra said.
Essential micronutrients such as iron, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin B1, and folic acid have been added to fortified rice. Five companies have taken the initiative to supply this rice to sales centres and super shops in Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi, and Chattogram regions in order for it to reach general consumers.
The companies have also conducted trial marketing in Mohammadpur Krishi Market, Kawran Bazar, Agora and Shwapno super shops, and online markets such as Chaldal and Matrix Bazaar in Dhaka.