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|All Authors / Contributors:||I Angeles-Agdeppa Affiliation: Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology, Gen. Santos Ave., Bicutan, 1631 Taguig City, Philippines. firstname.lastname@example.org; M Saises; M Capanzana; LR Juneja; N Sakaguchi|
BACKGROUND: Rice, the staple food of the Philippines, is an appropriate vehicle for iron fortification to combat the high prevalence of iron-deficiency anemia. A previous study among schoolchildren supplemented with iron-fortified rice showed a significant reduction in the rate of iron-deficiency anemia from 100% to 33%. OBJECTIVE: To document the processes involved in commercializing iron-fortified rice and to determine its effects on anemia prevalence. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: This study was conducted on 766 mothers and their children aged 6 to 9 years in Orion, Bataan. Soliciting political support, networking with local organizations, market surveys, and social marketing activities were conducted. The iron content of iron-fortified rice was tested for each production run. Hemoglobin measurements were performed on the mothers and children at baseline and endline. RESULTS: A municipal ordinance to sell iron-fortified rice was issued, while the local federation provided funds to kick off the sale of iron-fortified rice. Sales of iron-fortified rice were highest when the rice was sold at Php 27 (Php 1 = US$0.025) per kilogram and lowest when the price was Php 37 per kilogram or greater. The municipal ordinance was not strictly enforced because of the global rice crisis. Social marketing activities encouraged families to buy iron-fortified rice. The iron content of the iron-rice premix was within the set specification limits of 600 to 760 mg of iron per 100 g of premix, while the iron-fortified rice was within 3 to 3.8 mg of iron and 1 to 2 mg (BC No. 2009-010) per 100 g of raw and cooked fortified rice, respectively. The decrease in the rate of anemia was significant among children (from 17.5% to 12.8%) but not among mothers (from 13.0% to 12.5%) after 9 months of study implementation. CONCLUSIONS: Strong political support and intensive social marketing activities are crucial inputs in commercializing iron-fortified rice. Keeping the cost affordable and maintaining the commitment of identified partners were the key factors for providing a continuous supply of iron-fortified rice. Commercializing iron-fortified rice can be considered as one of the strategies for decreasing anemia prevalence.
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