Large-scale food fortification is an essential action to reduce micronutrient deficiencies in Africa. To unlock the full potential of fortification, the private sector needs broader partnerships to foster investments in food processing technology and infrastructure as well as to drive consumer education.
This was the submission of Ashish Pande, the Managing Director of Crown Flour Mill (CFM) Limited, an Olam Group Company in Nigeria, during a virtual high-level consultation organised by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), through the Regional Centre of Excellence against Hunger and Malnutrition (CERFAM), on September 2 and 3, 2021.
The high-level consultation, with the theme “Food fortification: which dietary approach to reduce micronutrient deficiencies in Africa?”, brought together representatives from governments, regional and sub-regional organisations, the African Union, development partners, control and regulatory agencies, the private sector, academia, civil society organisations, food systems’ experts and key players working in the field of nutrition in Africa.
The event aimed to collate and propose actionable interventions to governments and other key stakeholders to support the efforts of African countries to eliminate malnutrition from the continent.
Speaking about the roles of technological and financial partners in deepening the food fortification efforts in Africa, Pande said, “Acquiring the right food processing technology infrastructure as well as communicating and educating the importance of micronutrients and a healthy diet to key value chain players and especially, consumers will fast track the food fortification agenda on sub-regional and regional levels in Africa.”
He added, “Crown Flour Mill Limited, along with Technoserve and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have developed a fully automated premix facility, which is first of any miller in West Africa. Our premix facility ensures the right quantity and quality of micronutrients, which conform with the required standards of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), are put in foods at the factory processing level.”
According to Pande, “In addition to ensuring our food processing standards match regulatory prescriptions, we conduct extensive consumer education initiatives, while also regularly working with bakers to familiarize them with food fortification technology for the nutritional benefit of the end consumers, via the Baking School initiative.”
He explained that CFM works with leading international agencies to continuously improve its food processing methodologies in line with global best practices and the various international food fortification and affordability agendas such as the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods, the Africa Regional Nutrition Strategy 2015-2025, and the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations, particularly the Sustainable Development Goal 2, amongst others.
Pande was a panelist at Session 8 of the high-level food fortification consultation webinar titled “Technological and Financial Partners Commitment to Food Fortification in Africa”.
The panel, which was moderated by Dr Rolf Klemm, the Vice President of Nutrition at the Helen Keller International, also had as panelists Martin Fregene, the Director of Agriculture and Agro-Industry at the African Development Bank; Shawn Baker, the Chief Nutritionist at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); and Yannick Foing, the Global Director of DSM’s Nutrition Improvement Unit.
Participants at the webinar agreed that scaling-up food fortification and diet diversification supplementation needs the support of wider advocacy and partnership strategies. In addition to flour, the fortification of other staple foods, particularly rice, will be needed to end hidden hunger and achieve SDG 2 on the continent.
They emphasised the importance of strategic national & regional policies and effective regulatory frameworks as critical drivers of food fortification globally.