DOST-XI urges millers to use iron-fortified rice

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 July) — The Department of Science and Technology-XI is encouraging rice millers in Davao Region to make use of iron-fortified rice.

In Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City, DOST XI assistant regional director Elsy Mae Solidum said using iron-fortified rice as an additive to rice stocks can address anemia among consumers especially the children.

As an important micronutrient, iron helps in the production of red blood cells that bring oxygen to the brain.

“Iron is part of the hemoglobin which carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and carbon dioxide from the tissue to the lungs. Hemoglobin gives the red color of the blood. It transports oxygen to the different parts of the body. Oxygen is needed in the production of energy needed to do work,” a study of DOST published on said.

FNRI stands for Food and Nutrition Research Institute.

The study added that individuals with anemia show symptoms such as: tiredness and weakness, lack of stamina and decreased work and school performance, slow cognitive and social development during childhood and difficulty in maintaining body temperature.

Decreased immune function that increases susceptibility to infection, breathlessness, headaches, insomnia, loss of appetite, and paleness in the skin, conjunctiva, palm, nailbed, and buccal mucosa or inner portion of the lower lip, are other signs and symptoms of iron deficiency.

At least 11 to 12 percent of Filipinos have anemia, according to Solidum.

“How can the children learn if they have anemia?” she said.

The agency has been doing massive information dissemination in different local government units in the region on the use of iron-fortified rice.

For every 200 grams of rice, it can be mixed with one gram of ferric pyrophosphate, which has shown good results in alleviating iron deficiency anemia.

Rice millers will only incur an additional cost of P1 to P2 for every kilo or rice.

The agency has tested iron-fortified rice in the supplementary feeding program to the school children in Compostela Valley, a province severely hit by Typhoon Pablo in December 2012.

“We’re doing this to respond to their need. If there’s disaster, the nutritional status, especially that of the children, is deteriorating,” said Dr. Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa, assistant scientist at FNRI.

She added that Compostela Valley passed a provincial ordinance that rice millers should add iron-ftortified rice to their supply as an offshoot of the program of the DOST.

The province had the most number of Pablo victims at 130,038 families followed by Davao Oriental at 56,352 families. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)