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Contact: Amy Wales, PATH, 206.302.4689, awales@path.org; Rachel Wolff, World Vision, 253.394.2214, rwolff@worldvision.org

Seattle, October 20, 2010 – PATH has received $1 million from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to fortify humanitarian assistance food aid distributed in Burundi. In partnership with World Vision, rice commodities will be fortified with Ultra Rice®, PATH’s cost-effective and culturally-appropriate rice fortification technology proven to bridge micronutrient deficiencies and prevent malnutrition in rice-consuming communities.

“The United States is a major supplier of food aid, feeding millions of people around the world who are suffering during emergency situations,” said Roger Beachy, director of NIFA. “PATH’s Ultra Rice has great potential to improve the nutritional quality of food aid products that the Burundi people depend on for survival.”

NIFA’s Food Aid Nutrition Enhancement Program (FANEP) supports the development and field testing of new ready-to-use foods, fortified blended foods, high-energy foods, micronutrient powders, or other food products designed to improve the nutritional content and delivery of humanitarian food assistance. Projects funded by FANEP may also include the field testing of existing food products that have not yet been approved for use in food aid programs.

“With the USDA grant, PATH will bring the benefits of Ultra Rice to the African continent for the first time, and we are thrilled to do so in collaboration with World Vision. Our introduction pilot will generate critical data and also serve as a model for improving the nutritional quality of rice-based food aid,” said Dipika Matthias, director of PATH’s Ultra Rice Project.

Activities under the $1M USDA grant will focus on generating both operational and biological impact data to demonstrate that PATH’s Ultra Rice is an effective rice fortification method for food aid programs. World Vision in Burundi will serve as the implementation partner, providing technical expertise and training as well as the warehouse facilities for the storage and distribution of fortified rice to approximately 15,000 children through a school feeding program supported by the United Nations World Food Programme. World Vision serves nearly 100 million people in 100 different countries and is one of the world’s largest distributors of humanitarian assistance food aid.

PATH’s Ultra Rice is made from rice flour and enriched with a range of micronutrients, including iron, zinc, and folic acid, among many others. Extruded through pasta-making machinery, Ultra Rice grains look and taste exactly like the rice with which it is blended, typically at a 1:100 blend ratio. Previous studies have demonstrated that Ultra Rice enhances micronutrient levels, decreases morbidities, and prevents malnutrition in young children (6-24 months), school-aged children, and women. The grains are presently manufactured in Brazil and India, where they have been introduced primarily through public sector distribution programs—initial market entry points for the technology.

According to Paul Macek, World Vision’s senior director for its integrated food and nutrition programs, PATH’s Ultra Rice has enormous long-term potential for hunger reduction. “Using Ultra Rice to address global hunger is important because so much of the world already depends on rice as a staple food,” said Macek. “Rice fortification has potential reach beyond this trial in Burundi.”

FANEP is administered through the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and the Related Agencies Programs Appropriation Act—an act which called for a grant program to enhance the health of individuals, especially infants and young children, at risk for or suffering from malnutrition by further improving the nutritional content, product composition, packaging, and other components of food products delivered through the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition program and the Food for Peace Title II humanitarian assistance programs.

About World Vision

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit, www.worldvision.org/press.

About PATH

PATH is an international nonprofit organization that creates sustainable, culturally relevant solutions, enabling communities worldwide to break longstanding cycles of poor health. By collaborating with diverse public- and private-sector partners, PATH helps provide appropriate health technologies and vital strategies that change the way people think and act. PATH’s work improves global health and well-being. 

More information

Ultra Rice is a registered trademark in the United States of Bon Dente International, Inc.