The amount of rice and wheat in India's food supply is almost equivalent, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. In 2009, the most recent year for which data are available, the amount of milled rice in the national food supply was 187 grams per person per day; the amount of wheat was 158 grams per person per day.
India is the second largest producer of wheat in the world after China. Of 90 million tons of wheat grown in India, roughly 70 million tons are consumed in the country. In rapidly growing urban and industrial areas, consumption of wheat-based foods has increased exponentially over last few decades. In urban Rajasthan, for example, wheat consumption is 308 grams per capita per day.
In 2000, the Darjeeling district of West Bengal became the first place in India to fortify wheat flour. Now we estimate that 2.2 million tons of wheat flour are fortified every year in India in the states of Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and West Bengal. This amounts to 12% of the industrially milled wheat flour in the country.
Flour fortification is supported by the government of India, several state governments and their ministries and departments dealing with cereal grains and food distribution. Active involvement of international agencies, national health and nutrition research institutions, and flour milling professionals have contributed toward wheat flour fortification.
Most fortified flour in India is distributed in the government’s welfare system. We are working with public, private, and civic sector partners to expand fortification to all types of flour in the open market and to expand coverage to all states. We are also exploring the potential for rice fortification to be a cost-effective, sustainable approach to preventing vitamin and mineral deficiencies here.