U.S. Rice Industry Strengthens Partnerships with Global Food Aid Programs

Fortified rice is a super food in the fight against malnutrition
Jan 15, 2021
ARLINGTON, VA -- 2020 was a banner year for rice in international food assistance programs with approximately 120,000 MT of U.S. rice distributed to 27 countries around the globe, five for the first time.  The U.S. rice industry saw dramatic increases in the use of fortified rice and made significant gains in programs that had not historically called for the use of rice.

The biggest success story of the year was fortified rice with total purchases of approximately 44,000 MT.  This represented a total of 35 percent of all rice in food aid – a record for fortified rice.  The primary program where fortified rice is used is McGovern-Dole Food for Education, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) global school feeding program.  “Fortified rice is an excellent resource for McGovern-Dole because it provides not only a healthy, delicious staple food to children but also delivers additional nutrients that can be tailored to the needs of each region,” said Jesica Kincaid, USA Rice manager for international trade policy.

Fortified rice was also used in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Title II emergency feeding programs that help some of the most vulnerable populations receive the nourishment and nutrition they urgently need.  Last fall, USA Rice hosted a webinar which brought together panelists from USDA, USAID, and World Food Program USA to discuss usage trends, product updates, and the benefits of fortified rice in feeding a pandemic-stricken world (USA Rice Daily, November 13, 2020).

Rice also saw important gains in the USDA Food for Progress program that helps developing countries modernize and strengthen their agricultural sectors.  U.S. agricultural commodities are donated to recipient countries, sold on the local market, and the proceeds are used to support agricultural, economic, or infrastructure development programs.  In 2020, the first half of a large rice monetization project in West Africa kicked off with nearly 25,000 MT of milled rice delivered in late 2020.

“2021 looks to be another strong year for rice in food aid,” said Kincaid.  “A tender for the second half of the ongoing West Africa Food for Progress monetization project is very near approval, and multiple other Food for Progress projects with large tonnages in the region are expected to be called forward as well.”

With the recent tender for more than 17,000 MT and eight of nine new McGovern-Dole projects calling for fortified rice, this critical food source is expected to remain at the forefront of the global fight against hunger.