Leh, 19 December (HS): In a significant move to address the prevalent issue of micronutrient deficiency, Advisor Ladakh, Dr Pawan Kotwal, inaugurated the inclusion of fortified wheat flour in the Public Distribution System (PDS) of Ladakh. The launch took place at Kangri Mill, Chuchot Gongma, during an event organized by the Food, Civil Supplies, and Consumer Affairs Department.
Accompanied by Secretary of Health and Food Safety, Dr Vasantha Kumar, Director of FCS&CA Tahir Hussain, and other officials, Dr Pawan Kotwal visited the mill to observe the wheat flour fortification process. The technical team provided detailed insights into the machinery’s functioning.
Addressing the gathering, Advisor Dr Kotwal highlighted that the Government of India is introducing fortified rice through PDS across the country, and in Ladakh, the provision includes fortified wheat flour as well. Drawing parallels with other states like Himachal Pradesh, he emphasized the importance of fortification in addressing iron, folic acid, and Vitamin B12 deficiencies, which are alarmingly high in Ladakh compared to the national average.
Quoting data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), Dr Kotwal pointed out that over 95% of the Ladakhi population, spanning children and adults, suffers from anaemia. To combat this health concern, the administration has been distributing free iron and folic acid supplements in tablet form. However, he acknowledged the low compliance in taking these supplements.
With the introduction of fortified wheat flour in Ladakh’s PDS, Dr Kotwal expressed optimism that this initiative would contribute to improving anaemia levels in the region. He urged shopkeepers to make fortified oil and milk available for sale, ensuring wider access to these essential items.
During the event, experts from the Food Fortification Division, KHPT, and GAIN emphasized the need and significance of food fortification in addressing widespread nutritional deficiencies.
The launch ceremony witnessed the presence of Director CAPD Tahir Hussain, Councilor Chuchot Mirza Hussain, BDC members, and officials of CAPD.
Impact on MSMEs and Businesses: The introduction of fortified wheat flour in the PDS of Ladakh presents an opportunity for local businesses, including MSMEs, to participate in the production and distribution of essential fortified food items. As the government addresses nutritional deficiencies, businesses involved in the fortification process, including mill owners and suppliers of fortified ingredients, may see increased demand, contributing to the local economy’s growth.