Research-backed policy to eliminate miniket rice in Bangladesh will improve nutrition

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BY VICTOR TALEON AND ZAKIUL HASAN
OPEN ACCESS | CC-BY-4.0

Over 30% of rice sold in city markets in Bangladesh is refined and branded into the shape, size, and color known as miniket, which owes its popularity to its bright white color and slender grains. But miniket rice is a flawed product: It is not a true rice variety and has low levels of essential nutrients. Owing to high demand from consumers, rice vendors often sell different types of highly processed rice under that name. Processing renders miniket significantly less nutritious than other common rice types in Bangladesh, IFPRI research shows. These issues led the government to ban the sale of miniket rice in 2023.

Miniket is made by taking varieties of rice with medium-slender shapes and transforming them into more slender grains using a high degree of milling (Figure 1). Because raw rice typically breaks when milled to a high degree, processors parboil the grains so they withstand breakage during milling. This process strips off edible portions of the grain, wasting food and removing essential nutrients—notably, miniket rice has up to 70% less zinc (Figure 2).

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