The launch of wheat flour fortified with iron, Vitamin B12 and folic acid was one of the biggest-ever food fortification drives in the open market in Jaipur.
The initiative by three private flour millers here is aimed at curbing the soaring cases of anaemia and vitamin deficiency among the population.
The Jaipur Roller Flour Mills have launched the fortified brand Meera, Anand Flour Mills have the brand Aanand Bhog, and Rajputana Industries is selling the brand Shri Ram Bhog.
"When private millers come together with public interest on their mind, it always creates a huge impact. They not only help in increasing penetration but also ensure availability of the product for the people," said Dhirendra Kumar, project director at the Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR), Jaipur.
The government is already providing fortified flour to people with ration cards but this initiative will make it available also at neighbourhood grocery stores.
The wheat flour sells at government ration shops at less than Rs. 9 per kg, whereas the open market price ranges between Rs.13-16 per kg.
On an average, 6,000 tonnes of flour are now being produced per month for the open market in Rajasthan.
Nutritionists say that malnutrition is rampant in urban areas because children often eat junk foods which are unhealthy and fail to meet nutritional requirements.
"We always come across children who seem healthy and their parents also feel likewise, but they have severe micro-nutrient deficiencies," said Atiya Nishat, a Delhi-based nutritionist.
The flour launch is a part of India's biggest food fortification project, currently under way in Rajasthan. The project is directed by IIHMR with support from the international agency Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition.
According to NGOs, Rajasthan has very high levels of anaemia across all age and income groups, affecting 79 percent of children below 3 years, 62 percent of pregnant women and even 21 percent of adult males.