Figure 1: The rice fortification journey in the Philippines.

WFP first began promoting IFR in the Philippines in 2018, when it worked with the Government to successfully pilot a school feeding programme in BARMM that used IFR. This pilot created a strong case for investment in locally sourced IFR in the country and directly resulted in the adoption and promotion of IFR by the NFA, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform, and the Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition Research Institute.

In 2021, after WFP presented the results of the BARMM school feeding pilot to key stakeholders, the NFA adopted IFR as one of its priority programmes. Further policy advocacy and technical support by WFP led the Department of Education to include the use of IFR in school feeding programmes as one of its commitment to the School Meals Coalition, an international initiative of governments and partners.

Figure 2: Timeline of iron-fortified rice promotion in the Philippines (2017–2022).

Other private sector capacity-strengthening supported by WFP includes a supply chain mapping activity to guide small and medium-sized enterprises and other producers in the supply of IFR, and a technology transfer programme to increase the number of IFR suppliers. This latter project has seen 10 suppliers establish themselves in the Philippines, particularly in the Luzon. In 2022, WFP also sponsored a food technologist from its Country Office in Bangladesh, which has adopted a progressive national fortification programme, to visit the Philippines. The mission produced practical findings on standards and quality assurance for WFP and rice millers – including millers from whom WFP may purchase IFR for its programmes in BARMM in 2023.

Rice fortification success factors in brief:

  • Creating a platform to align sectors (the Fortification Committee).
  • Showing how rice fortification supported national priorities.
  • Working with a broad network to ensure continuity through political turnover.
  • Implementing pilots to test programmes before scaling up.
  • Working directly with communities to deliver tailored social and behaviour change communication approaches.
  • Securing champions to advocate for fortification within government.
  • Knowing how the law-making process works.
  • Investing for the long-term.

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