Maramag Bukidnon is home to the first iron-fortified rice processing plant in Northern Mindanao
According to DOST-Food and Nutrition Research Institute’s (FNRI) Seventh National Nutrition Survey (7th NNS) in 2008, Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) is still prevalent among four out of 10 and three out of 10 pregnant and lactating women, respectively. Further, according to the survey, IDA also affects two out of 10 children 6months to 5 years old, as well as the six to 12-year-olds. In addition, one out of ten 13- to 19-year-old teens are likewise affected.
With this underlying issue, DOST-FNRI developed the Iron-Fortified Rice (IFR) and Iron Rice Premix (IRP) technologies to help address iron deficiency anemia in the country. Fortifying rice with iron is a strategic nutrition intervention in helping address IDA, because rice is the staple food of most Filipinos.
In an effort to help solve the incidence of anemia in Region 10, the Department of Science and Technology-10, together with the DOST-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) and Maramag Community Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MACO-MPC), launched the Iron-Fortified Rice Project and inaugurated the Iron Rice Fortification Processing Plant on August 3, 2022, at Base Camp, Maramag, Bukidnon. This is the pioneering iron rice fortification processing plant in Northern Mindanao.
The DOST-10’s project “Strengthening and Promotion of Iron-Fortified Rice for Nutrition and Overall Wellness (SAP-IFRNOW) Project” aims to combat iron deficiency anemia in Northern Mindanao through the transfer of two technologies from DOST-FNRI to MACO-MPC. The IFR and IRP technologies involve hot extrusion and precise blending processes. The plain rice and iron rice premix is blended by a DOST-FNRI calibrated continuous blending machine to produce Iron-Fortified Rice.
A vital component of the project is an efficacy study to be conducted by DOST-FNRI in partnership with MACO-MPC, Bukidnon State University (BSU), the Provincial Health Office (PHO)/Provincial Nutrition Action Office (PNAO) of Bukidnon and Municipal Health Office (MHO) of Maramag, Bukidnon. The study will involve 100 randomly selected iron-deficient residents in Maramag, Bukidnon. This will include the provision of 1kg IFR per day to each individual for six months.
The project also envisions that through a collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare and Development Region 10 (DSWD 10) and the Department of Education Region 10 (DepEd 10), the IFR will be included in their regular supplementary feeding activities.
MACO-MPC is now the technology licensee and official manufacturer of both the IRP and IFR. The Iron Rice Premix is available to all interested rice millers in the region for the production of IFR, while the Iron-Fortified Rice is accessible to consumers at the MACO-MPC store in Maramag, Bukidnon at a fair price.
This project showcases the value of food fortification and how it can contribute to the overall health and wellness of individuals. The rollout of these IRP and IFR technologies in Region 10 manifests a great impact in the call to fight malnutrition.