By Oludele Taiwo
To address the high rate of malnutrition and under-nutrition especially in a country with a population as large as Nigeria, large scale food fortification must be embraced. This is according to the Country Director of Technoserve, Adesuwa Akinboro during the second edition of the Micronutrients Fortification Index (MFI) awards in Lagos. She said the MFI was designed mainly to incentivise private sector companies to fortify their products for three main reasons – public recognition, providing a level playing field for all companies to ensure fortification compliance and incentivising companies to improve and maintain high fortification standards.
Products of Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN), Raffles, PZ Wilmar, Crown Flour Mills, Olam and Dufil, made the top 10 of the 2023 MFI and were recognised by TechnoServe for their contribution to food fortification. “Today, we are recognising private companies that have adhered to fortification standards and maintained improved food fortification compliance levels”, Akinboro said, noting that Technoserve, through its market-based and industry-led Programme, Strengthening African Processors of Fortified Foods (SAPFF), worked with partners to redefine the unsatisfactory narrative of large-scale food fortification in the country.
According to her, SAPFF had since evolved into the Technical Assistance Acceleration Programme (TAAP) project, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to work with global supply chain partners in the food fortification space, to create a platform for private-public partnerships that will drive sustainability of large-scale fortification. Technoserve’s Regional Director for West Africa, Larry Umunna, said TechnoServe is an international organisation that believes in the power to transform lives, stating that Nigeria does not have good statistics when it comes to nutrition as about 22 per cent of children under-five, are stunted.
He said two out of every five children in Nigeria do not have access to quality nutritious food, stressing that the private sector has a long way to go in ensuring that the country brings down the undesirable statistics to the minimum. The Director at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Jeremie Zoungrana, said the foundation believes that improving nutrition was one of the most effective tools to ensure that Nigeria’s 200 million people live a healthy and productive life. “This is why we have heavily invested in fortification and nutrition incentives over the years with a growing focus on Nigeria. We have begun to see the impact on our investment in Nigeria, especially the MFI, which had made significant improvement in fortification practices and commitments”, he said.