The inclusion of vitamins or minerals to commonly eaten foods, also known as food fortification, has already played a part in reducing micronutrient deficiencies over the past century, with micronutrients such as folate or iodine added to foods like flour and salt. Fortified rice kernels look, taste and cook like ordinary rice and are combined with regular rice at a ratio of 1 to 100. Moreover, the technology to fortify rice has already been developed and consumer acceptability proven. To complement the WFP food basket – the food distributed depending on the needs of the groups – WFP has introduced the fortification of staples. Fortification usually aims to meet adult needs, while vulnerable groups such as children and pregnant and nursing women may require supplements or specially fortified products.
However, although fortification technology has been developed, and consumer acceptability proven, rice fortification programmes remain largely under utilised. This is due to the fact that these programmes have not been sufficiently scaled to determine optimum business models and costs.
With a ground-breaking pilot in Mali, the Innovation Accelerator has allowed WFP to step up efforts to bring rice fortification programmes to scale. In line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2.2 to end malnutrition in all its forms by 2030, the project aims to develop a model for WFP, both in West Africa and globally.