Government, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dangote set for food fortification
The Federal Government, Dangote Group, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have identified food fortification as one of the major strategies to decrease the number of over ten million children suffering from malnutrition in Nigeria.This was disclosed when leaders of Nigerian food processing industry, the government and development partners came together recently at the Food Processing and Nutrition Leadership Forum in Lagos.
The CEO of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, said “we discussed the issue of smuggling, because some of the foods smuggled here to Nigeria are not fortified. They don’t have NAFDAC numbers; neither do they have SON numbers. At least with that, we can end up having a healthy society and environment.”Hajia Aisha Abubakar, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, said the government would look into the demand for a special tariff of importation of micronutrients used in food fortification.
Lack of micronutrients make children and young adults more vulnerable to diseases and are usually at greater risk of death.Poor nutrition also prevents children from realizing their full potentials- stunting not only their physical and intellectual growth, but also their, future ambition, educational and future employment opportunity.
Combating malnutrition through food fortification is critical for long term development and many countries across the region of Africa implements fortification in food processing, which is believed to be achieved together as industry, government development leaders and individuals.
This commitment reflects the collective collaboration towards resolving and achieving adequate fortification of the major staples by 2020, which will be followed up annually to track their progress with a second gathering which has been scheduled for March 2019.
According to WHO (2017), anemia, primarily caused by iron deficiency, occurs in children of 6-59 months old is 71%, non-pregnant women within the age of 15-49 years old is 47%, the micro nutrition status population of reproductive age among women which are affected with anemia is 50%, Vitamin A deficiency in children between the age of 6-59 months old is 42%, the population classification of iodine nutrition for children within the age bracket of 5-19 years old is optimal while 21% of the population are at risk of zinc deficiency.
The Strengthening African Processor for Food Fortification (SAPFF) is a four year 10 million dollars initiative partnership between the international nonprofit TechnoServe and the nonprofit consortium Partners in Food Solution, funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Nigerian Custom Services, the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) are also involved to control and prevent smuggled non-fortified foods.
Representative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on the occasion, Mr. Shawn Baker, who doubles as Director, Nutrition, Global Development, said the food fortification approach would complement the ongoing efforts on bio-fortification of certain crops such as Vitamin A cassava, maize and Orange Flesh sweet potato.
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