When we last covered PATH, the international health nonprofit had licensed its rice fortification technology to producers in Brazil, Columbia, and India. Now PATH is bringing Ultra Rice--a rice-shaped extruded rice grain filled with vitamins and minerals--to Burundi. This marks the first time that Ultra Rice will be available in Africa.
The USDA and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) provided PATH $1 million to bring Ultra Rice to Burundi as part of NIFA’s Food Aid Nutrition Enhancement Program, which supports the development and testing of products that improve the nutrition and delivery of humanitarian food aid.
PATH's cash will go towards developing hard data that shows the nutritional value of the Ultra Rice fortification system. That means real-world testing in Burundi, where Ultra Rice will be distributed to 15,000 children through a school feeding program sponsored by the United Nations. In previous testing, the rice technology has been shown to decrease morbidity and improve nutrition levels in women and children.
So where can Ultra Rice go from here? PATH hopes that governments in developing countries will begin to require Ultra Rice fortification in traditional rice products. We can't think of any down sides to that.