I-Rice program set for nationwide implementation

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A March 15, 2011 press release prepared by the Department of Agriculture
The government is launching today, March 15, 2011, at San Andres Sports Complex in San Andres, Manila, the I-Rice program which is seen as a solution to combat the growing malnutrition in the country.
I-Rice program seeks to lessen if not totally eliminate malnutrition in the country, particularly iron-deficiency anemia, through the introduction of iron fortificant to rice, the country’s staple food.
The program is particularly focused to sectors mostly susceptible to iron-micronutrient deficiency among them, nursing mothers, pregnant women and young children.
The program is set for nationwide implementation.
Findings of the National Nutrition Survey of 2008 showed that 19.5 percent of Filipinos, from infants six months old to elderly over 60 years old, are suffering from anemia.
The 2008 nutrition survey also showed that the prevalence of anemia  was highest among the infants – six months to less than a year old -  at 55.7 percent  followed by pregnant women at 42.5 percent.
There was, however, a significant drop in the percentage of anemia prevalence among the citizenry from a high of 30.6 percent reflected in the nutrition survey made in 1998 which the government wants to further reduce to 15.3 percent by the year 2015.
The nutrition survey is being conducted every five years. Previous surveys were held in 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2008.
The Health and Agriculture departments will jointly implement the program
through the agencies under them particularly the National Nutrition Council (NNC) and the National Food Authority (NFA).
The implementation of I-Rice program is also in compliance to Republic Act (RA) 8978 that calls for the mandatory fortification of staples such as rice, flour, cooking oil and refined sugar.
With the launching of I-Rice program, iron-fortified rice will be made available in NFA rice outlets nationwide at a price affordable to consumers.