Rice Fortification Program
Department of Science and Technology Regional Office No. XI

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
On December 4, 2012, Compostela Valley was stricken by the super typhoon ‘Pablo’ that killed thousands of people in the province. Many residents were displaced and homes of the victims were destroyed. The agriculture sector was severely affected with numerous plantations and farms ruined. People of Compostela Valley have been deprived of livelihood because of the loss in agriculture and other industries. Clean water and food supplies were insufficient. These caused the increment in the number of sickly children in the province. The affected children experienced iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) and some became malnourished.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The rice fortification program was initiated by the Department of Science and Technology Regional Office XI (DOST XI) with the technology from DOST-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) and assistance from the Provincial Local Government Unit of Compostela Valley (PLGU-Comval). The aim was to fortify the commercial rice with iron in order to reduce the iron-deficiency prevalence among the children and the population in general. It consisted of a holistic step to the attainment of the end-goal that includes the conduct of a formal nutrition study, development of nutrition modules, adoption of rice fortification technology, and the implementation of the iron-fortified rice ordinance.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The rice fortification program became an instrument to improve the health condition of children and welfare of the constituents in the province of Compostela Valley. The children in the province have experienced improvement in their hemoglobin levels through the trials of feeding iron-fortified rice to them. School feeding programs around the province adopted IFR which improved the performance of the children. The parents of these children have undergone nutrition education activities in order to understand the concept of nutrition and its importance to the welfare of their children. They actively participated in the six-month lectures and sessions. To widen the scope of nutrition education, selected teachers were tapped to translate the nutrition modules to the local dialect (i.e., Cebuano) for better understanding of the parents in the localities. The teachers were also tasked to campaign the nutrition modules in the schools. The share of the benefits of the program also reached the rice millers where they have undergone a forum on rice fortification for them to have an idea on the techniques of fortification and its impact to the society. Two millers have decided to adopt the rice fortification technology who aimed to commercialize it. They were assisted by DOST as well in the acquisition of equipment which was used for the efficient milling of rice. Now, they have been commercializing IFR so it will be readily available at public markets. With the commercialization of IFR, the people of Compostela Valley (Comvaleños) had an access to the healthier rice. Comvaleños are now starting to enjoy the benefits of IFR. It is expected that the continuous feeding programs and availability of the IFR in some of the public markets will boost the health conditions of children and those suffering from iron deficiency anemia (IDA).

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
Rice is a staple food among Filipinos. Employing rice as a tool for improving the health of the populace was seen as an effective method of the DOST. Thus, the iron-fortification program has commenced. The problem with capsulated vitamins and minerals is that children have difficulty in taking it in because of the unusual flavor and shapes. The IFR offers a simple way of encouraging children to consume iron-rich food that supplements their need for the said mineral. Moreover, iron-rich supplements both for children and adult are expensive while the IFR have almost the same price with the ordinary rice. In addition, the program did not just involve experiments and other scientific trials but it used a community-based approach where all stakeholders are given support to perform their tasks. Each component of the community had used their specialties in order to deliver the IFR to the public. The program also reached out to schools to further promote the utilization of IFR and to ensure that school children can eat iron-rich food through initiating feeding programs and launching of “healthier kitchen” approach called “Kusina ng Kalinga.” This approach not just uses IFR but also complements it with various vegetables and fruits.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The iron-fortification program was implemented by the Department of Science and Technology - Region XI, DOST-FNRI, and the Provincial Local Government Unit of Compostela Valley. The whole population was reached through awareness campaign. The COMVAL iRice Ordinance is expected to benefit the whole population through its full implementation.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The planning of the rice fortification program started in 2013 after the strong typhoon ‘Pablo’ hit the province of Compostela Valley. DOST thought of a new way to support the rehabilitation of the province. It used food as a primary subject of a program that will alleviate the poor conditions of the health status among the populace. Hence, the rice fortification has commenced. DOST tapped all possible stakeholders for the program. They asked each of them to provide support for the promising project especially the Provincial Local Government Unit of Compostela Valley (PLGU-Comval). DOST and the program partners have come with a proposal and was approved. The rice fortification was thoroughly implemented in the Compostela Valley Province. It started with the deployment of the iron-fortified rice (IFR) product of Dr. Angeles-Agdeppa using extrusion and blending technologies to the province for study validation. On July to December 2013, a trial was conducted in Maco Heights Central Elementary School (MCHES), Maco, Compostela Valley where children were fed with either IFR or ordinary rice during lunch for 120 days. Results showed that the IFR of FNRI was efficacious in reducing anemia among schoolchildren. The parents of the 200 pupils who were recruited for the hemoglobin screening test undergone orientation. They also participated in the monthly nutrition education activity for six months using the ten (10) developed nutrition education modules. The said modules were appropriately translated to the local dialect by the teachers of MCHES and a hired linguist through a three-day workshop and study sessions. This was done so that the parents among the neighborhood can easily understand the modules. Technology adopters were then identified by DOST through a rice fortification forum for rice millers. The technology being promoted was the mixing of correct ratio of rice and iron premix (IPR) through the use of calibrated rice blending machine. It was introduced by DOST-FNRI and was designed by a local fabricator, i.e., Mundo Welding and Machine Shop. The rice blending technique was applied by the rice millers who adopted the technology. They were assisted in various ways to ensure the sustainability of their production. Bothe of the rice mills received trainings and free consultancy services from DOST. Due to the increment in production, they were able to add employment. The program has been promoted through various ways. DOST and PLGU-Comval teamed up in the formulation of information education campaign (IEC) materials that will be distributed all over the province for the awareness of the public. The IEC includes fora, radio advertisements, installation of billboards along national highways, dissemination of flyers and leaflets, and the provision of tarpaulins among the IFR retailers in the province. IFR was also promoted through trade fairs and exhibits in the whole Davao region. Finally, the crafting and approval of the COMVAL iRice Ordinance of 2015 has been done to fully implement the utilization of IFR among government institutions such as hospitals, schools, and offices in the province. It was through the ordinance that all meetings, activities, and programs of the government shall adopt the IFR during meals. Eateries and canteens are also required to utilize IFR. COMVAL iRice Ordinance created the Provincial Task Force who will enforce the implementation of the IFR utilization. They are also tasked to monitor the program. Moreover, PLGU-Comval adopted the IFR in its “Kusina ng Kalinga”—an innovative approach to conduct feeding programs in elementary schools which target the malnourished and underweight children.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative from the government sectors include the DOST XI, DOST-FNRI, PLGU-Compostela Valley, Department of Education – Compostela Valley (DEPED-Comval), National Nutrition Council (NNC), and the National Food Authority (NFA). They collaborated in the scientific trials, fora, negotiations, meetings, implementation and promotion. The private sector also contributed to the program through local fabrication of the rice blending machine and the commercial production of IFR in the province. These are Mundo Welding and Machine Shop, Saavedra Rice Mill, Antofel Trading, and Loronix Rice Mill.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The initiative considers the following as its most successful outputs: a. The efficacy of IFR was proven when the trials of feeding programs were conducted. It was found out that IFR can significantly improve the hemoglobin levels of the children. b. The production of localized modules focusing on nutrition became an integral part of the rice fortification program. These modules were a product of a six-month nutrition education activity. Moreover, the modules were translated into the Cebuano dialect so that the parents of the children can easily understand it. c. The rice blending technology was adopted by two (2) rice millers from Compostela Valley. They have successfully blended ordinary rice and iron premix (IPR). The technology is easy to use and can be adopted by other millers through a local fabricator. d. IFR is now commercialized. This means that IFR is now available to the public. The two millers became the two main suppliers of IFR in the province and in Davao region. e. The provincial ordinance of Compostela Valley also known as “COMVAL iRice Ordinance” was approved and implemented in 2015. It mandates the utilization of iRice for all government activities including school feeding programs in the province. A Provincial Task Force for COMVAL iRice implementation was also created to enforce the provisions of the law.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The following are the obstacles encountered during the implementation of the program: a. At first, the people in Compostela Valley have a very poor perception of the IFR. They thought that the iron premix (IPR) would have a yellowish effect on the color of rice when it is cooked. They also doubt the quality of the rice. However, this challenge was overcome by participating in several exhibits and trade fairs. These activities not just promoted the IFR but advertised its qualities as well. b. The identification of the possible adopters of the rice blending technology was difficult. No one would like to take the risk of manufacturing IFR. The obstacle was overcome through conducting a rice fortification forum and visiting the rice mills to better explain to them the positive effects of IFR in the province. c. The low demand of IFR was overcome through information education campaign (IEC) by DOST and the Provincial Local Government of Compostela Valley (PLGU-CV). The IEC includes the installation of billboards around the province and the distribution of flyers and leaflets. Tarpaulins are set up in retail stores as well. d. The implementation of the program in the province was not acted upon immediately until the creation of the Provincial Task Force who was tasked to monitor the utilization of IFR among government sector and the availability of it in the public markets.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Around 200 parents who have no sufficient knowledge in nutrition were educated during the nutrition education campaign of the program. These were taught to them through the nutrition modules which were developed to assist parents to guide their children on proper eating habits. Another benefit is the availability of rice fortification technology in the province through a DOST-assisted local fabricator of the blending machine. Any miller who wants to commercialize the IFR can easily approach the fabricator to commission him on the design of a blending machine that will suit one’s production capacity. The program was adopted by the province of Compostela Valley and they have mandated the utilization of IFR in the “Kusina ng Kalinga” project of the PLGU. The most important benefit is the availability of IFR in the province. Comvaleños will be able to buy IFR anytime.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Department of Science and Technology Regional Office No. XI
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Anthony Sales
Title:   Regional Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   0822275672
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   pstccomval.dost11@gmail.com  
Address:   Davao City
Postal Code:   8000
City:   Davao

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