TechnoServe Nigeria has urged operators of small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in the food industry to adopt the Micronutrient Fortification Index (MFI) model to self-regulate.
Ike IIegbune, TechnoServe’s lead consultant for MFI, made the call during a presentation at the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology’s (NIFST) 44th annual conference, stressing that adopting the model is necessary to scale processors’ compliance levels in food fortification.
According to him, the MFI, a self-assessment driven approach, has been developed in conjunction with industry partners and the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“It serves as an innovative mechanism to support the food industry in self-regulating the improvement of fortification compliance, alongside the existing regulatory regime.
“The MFI is a proactive measure to increase food fortification compliance in the country. It helps in de-risking companies’ exposure to failures in maintaining both regulatory and best-practice standards in fortification compliance as well as overall quality management”.
IIegbune added that it helps businesses integrate effectiveness from strategic governance, to production and to consumer satisfaction.
He described the index as being made up of three important components which include the self-assessment tools, industry intelligence, and periodic independent testing.
“The self-assessment tool enables internal benchmarking by participating companies, enabling them to measure and report internally on the efficiency and effectiveness their people, processes, partnerships, and the entire strategic governance framework that holds them in place.
“The periodic independent product testing uses established protocols to select products and test for product compliance with fortification standards,” he added.
Speaking further he said the model adopted for TechnoServe’s MFI has worked successfully in other areas, including corporate governance, noting that he would like to see companies reporting on MFI in their annual reports and communicating incremental improvements to key stakeholders.
“We are currently involved in the consolidation of the MFI and we want to see a gradual movement to sustainability. By 2024, we hope to be able to see a self-sustaining MFI system”.
Larry Umunna, TechnoServe’s Regional Director for West Africa, while also speaking at the event said that the firm is deeply honoured to be a partner of NIFST.
He said TechnoServe Nigeria through its Strengthening African Processors of Fortified Foods (SAPFF) initiative is increasing the compliance of processors in fortification of their products with essential micronutrients by understanding their challenges and helping them in closing the gaps.
He pointed out that the SAPFF project has provided customised assistance to the flour mills, edible oil, and sugar processing operators over the last three and a half years, with the MFI being the latest in its proactive initiatives to achieve its program objectives.