The World Food Programme Cambodia and Green Trade Company yesterday launched a project to blend regular rice with fortified rice to be used to provide free breakfast for children in targeted schools next year.
WFP country director Francesca Erdelmann said during the launch at the Green Trade mill in Phnom Penh that the project was the first of its kind in the Kingdom.
She said the blended rice contains vitamins which are important to support growth and development of the children’s bodies and brains.
“The WFP’s School Feeding Programme is being implemented in about 1,000 schools,” she noted. “About 500 to 600 schools are already receiving the fortified rice supplements through charitable donations from the United States to prepare breakfast for the children.”
“Therefore, through the successful blending of regular rice in Cambodia and vitamins and minerals rice [fortified rice], we hope to provide fortified rice to some other target schools where our school breakfast provision programme has been implemented,” she added.
A WFP Cambodia press release yesterday said that micronutrient deficiencies affect people’s health, learning ability and productivity.
It noted that high social and public costs result from reduced work capacity due to high rates of illness and disability.
WPF said that over the coming years, it will collaborate with the government to explore the feasibility of having the blended version distributed locally.
“If this is a success, it will enable the Cambodian population greater access to fortified rice, which is beneficial for their overall health and productivity,” the WFP said.
Ren Balen, a representative of the Ministry of Commerce’s Green Trade Company, said that the experts of the WFP and Green Trade have been working together for more than five years to research and seek the formula to blend fortified rice kernels with regular rice in Cambodia, and this is the first time Cambodia has been able to produce this fortified rice.
“For every 1,000 tonnes of regular rice, we have to mix 10 tonnes of vitamins and mineral fortified rice by using a high-tech machine to accurately measure the amount of the fortified rice,” Mr Balen said.