Worksheet for Feasibility, Implementation, and Monitoring of Imported Fortified Rice

When rice is shipped, the imported commodity is usually milled rice, rather than paddy rice. At various points in the imported rice supply chain, rice can be fortified with vitamins and mineral to improve the nutrient intake of consumers. This worksheet will guide stakeholders in countries considering mandating fortification of rice imports.

Part B: Describe the Rice Milling Industry
Unless the country does not grow any rice at all, even countries that predominantly import rice may have a small rice milling industry. Thus, it is important to describe even a small (or nonexistent) rice milling industry. In other cases, rice is imported into countries and further milled before selling in the market. If possible, count the number of rice mills in the country, record their milling capacities and utilization, and note whether any central storage facilities exist.

Part C: Describe the Rice Import Industry
Understanding how many rice importers are active in the country and who those importers are will assist efforts in industry communications and inform general expectations for import monitoring. In some countries, a rice importers association may facilitate data collection. Typical annual import amounts (as well as variability across years, to understand market fluctuations) will provide grain availability data if no consumption data is available. Industry data on import amounts can also provide a validation against FAO, USDA, and Customs availability data, as well as provide consumption estimates if consumption data is unavailable. Packaging and storage of imported rice (e.g. bulk vs. packaged) will inform whether fortification should be implemented either in country of export or after importation.

Part D: Identify Roles and Responsibilities for Domestic Fortified Rice Production and Imported Food Control
Feasibility of a mandatory rice fortification program hinges on not just the supply/demand logistics of the rice supply (Parts B and C), but also the strength of the government’s regulatory monitoring system (specifically the imported food control system) to enforce a fortified rice supply. Although a country’s rice may be primarily imported, it is still important to understand how rice would be fortified domestically if there is a local industry. Rice importers will be reluctant to fortify if they feel that their domestic competitors will not be held to the rice fortification standards. Observe whether the country has a national self-sufficiency policy that supports the domestic rice industry through subsidies or taxes on imported rice.

Without the government’s commitment to enforce a fortification program, mandatory legislation may fail to introduce fortified rice to the market. Enforcement activities include auditing fortified rice producers through process documentation as well as physical inspections to check nutrient quantities in the fortified foods. Physical inspections will need some laboratory capacity and resourcing.

Because rice is an agricultural product, multiple government bodies may have responsibilities to monitor the production and import of rice. For example, in the Solomon Islands, Biosecurity/Quarantine under the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for monitoring rice production and rice imports, while Food Safety under the Ministry of Health is responsible for monitoring fortified rice. Understanding the distinctions between the government body responsibilities will inform which government body must enforce fortification.

Questions in Part D aim to understand the country capacity to monitor for fortified rice in both the domestic rice production and import food control system.

Part E: After Introducing Fortification: Tips for Incorporating Fortified Rice in the Existing Monitoring System
A successful regulated fortification program should also be incorporated in the existing regulatory system for imported foods, rather than stand as its own regulatory system with separate staff, funding, and activities. A regulatory system that folds in fortification into existing Standard Operating Procedures and documentation will be more sustainable long-term in achieving fortification as an industry standard. However, additional training on these added items may be necessary.

This document is based on Food Fortification Initiative meetings and discussions with officials in the Solomon Islands Government (Customs and Excise, Environmental Health), rice importers, and development agencies (Food and Agriculture Organization, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade). Almost all the commercialized rice in Solomon Islands is imported, with small quantities of rice grown domestically for self-consumption or local commercial sale.

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