The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) announced its collaboration on Thursday with a Cambodian company to provide rural students with micronutrient-enriched school meals.
The partnership will see the WFP and Green Trade Company blend fortified rice kernels with Cambodian white rice to support the school meals programmes organised by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.
“Micronutrient rice is a mixture of [99 per cent] plain rice and one per cent rice that is [fortified] with vitamins,” WFP country director Francesca Erdelmann said, adding that the rice does not smell or taste like anything out of the ordinary after it is cooked.
Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said 1,000 tonnes of micronutrient-enriched rice are to be sent to 908 target primary schools in five provinces, including Kampong Chhnang, Pursat, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom and Oddar Meanchey provinces.
Through the project, 224,000 children are anticipated to receive micronutrient-enriched school meals, Soveacha said.
In a statement, the WFP said: “Micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals, eg iron, zinc, vitamins A and B12, are essential for optimising health and growth. Micronutrient deficiencies have an effect on a population’s health, especially among children and women.”
Council for Agricultural and Rural Development director Chou Bunheang said the idea to provide children with enriched rice was a positive step towards preventing nutritional deficiencies among rural students.
“The micronutrient-enriched rice will help children grow well and prevent dwarfism and polio. We have imported it from abroad with the help of US humanitarian aid agencies, but it will be a positive step for Cambodia if we can produce it locally,” he said.