Building local capacity for food fortification

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Fortification is used to increase the micronutrient content of foods.International organisations are empowering firms to end hunger by increasing their capacity to provide quality and nutritious fortified foods for local communities. One of them is Techno Serve, an international non-profit body, which is promoting business solutions to poverty in the developing world by linking people to information, capital and markets. DANIEL ESSIET reports.

With vast array of foods on offer to most Nigerians, dietary deficiencies should be a thing of the past. However, the widespread deficiencies of certain micronutrients, including iodine, folic acid, calcium and vitamin D have been observed nationally.

Studies have shown that nutrients intake from fortified foods differs considerably from state to state and that there are nutritional inadequacies in foods currently consumed with selected micronutrients. Major staples such as   garri, flour, oil, milk, rice and salt have to be fortified to tackle the deficiency of micronutrients.

For stakeholders, fortification of food with specific micronutrients and vitamins can resolve nutritional deficiencies in women and children, which negatively affect growth, survival, and development.

International organisations are, therefore, promoting food fortification, where essential micronutrients are added during food processing, to address micronutrient malnutrition at scale. They see immense potential for food processing and value addition in fortified foods.

One of them is Techno Serve, an international nonprofit organisation, which promotes business solutions to poverty in the developing world by linking people to information, capital and markets.

Techno Serve is supporting the inclusion of food processors into the national fortification programme by providing them with technical support and helping to create demand for their fortified products.

 

Strengthening fortified foods processors

 

Through its Strengthening African Processors of Fortified Foods (SAPFF) project, Techno Serve is addressing nutrition issues through food fortification.

SAPFF helps food firms to improve their capacity to produce and sell fortified foods for local markets, and provide consumers the nutrition they need to lead healthy and productive lives.

In view of this, a two-day seminar on the Fundamental and Sustainable Approaches to New Product Development in the Nigerian Food Processing Sector held in Lagos.

It was attended by over 60 participants drawn from food processors of wheat flour, edible oil, sugar and salt across the country.

The faculty was a select of industry leaders and experts in micronutrient fortification, research and development, digital marketing and manufacturing.

The SAPFF Programme Manager, Ms. Ayodele Tella, said while food fortification alone cannot end malnutrition in Nigeria, it was critical to micronutrient deficiency prevention and control strategies, therefore, Techno Serve will continue to work with processors to increase consumers assess to fortified foods to enable them live healthier and happier lives.

One of the collaborators of the project and Managing Director, BioAnalyt, Dr. Anna Zhenchuk, said her organisation was working with others in the fight against malnutrition through fortified foods.

Participants described the training as very useful, rewarding and timely. One of them was Mr. Nyebuchi Nwodo, who represented New RIVOC Company Limited, Port Harcourt, makers of vegetable and palm kernel oil, among other products. He said the workshop would add tremendous value to his company. His words: “We fortify our vegetable oil with nutrients like Vitamin A and E3. Given the background the fortification of food and oil has in the larger society, especially the growing youths, these nutrients contribute tremendously to mental growth.”

Nnenna Acholonu from Honeywell Flour Mill said the two-day workshop was quite resourceful. “Today we are looking at holistic margin management. I find it a very critical topic, which every business minded person needs to know,” she said.

Other participants expressed their appreciation for the training and showed eagerness in putting their new-found knowledge into immediate use. The four-year, $10 million SAPFF project is funded by the Gates Foundation, and implemented by Techno Serve in collaboration with Partners in Food Solutions (PFS), the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and other non-profit and government partners.

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