FFI Newsletter December 2016
Zimbabwe Passes Food Fortification Decree
The government of Zimbabwe signed a major decree on 24 October 2016 to mandate fortification of wheat flour, edible oil, maize meal, and sugar. The decree applies to domestic manufacturers as well as importers.
The decree builds upon existing mandates of salt fortification with iodine. This new mandate requires adding vitamin A, zinc, iron, and the B vitamins folic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and B12 to wheat flour and maize meal. The fortification standards are based on recommendations by the East, Central and Southern African Health Community (ECSA).
Zimbabwe has nine industrial wheat flour mills and 20 large- or medium-scale maize mills. Industries have until 1 July 2017 to meet the new requirements. The next few months will be spent raising consumer awareness and producing the fortified foods in the southeast African nation.
The legislation is part of a big push to end malnutrition and iron-deficiency anemia, which can contribute to infant and maternal mortality. According to a 2012 Zimbabwe Micronutrient Survey, 19 percent of children between the ages of 6 to 59 months have iron deficiency while 31 percent are anemic. Additionally, 26 percent of women between the ages of 15-49 are anemic.
Further, anemia causes debilitating fatigue which reduces productivity. Anemia in children limits their cognitive development which in turn hinders their future earnings potential. The World Bank estimates that Zimbabwe loses US $24 million annually in GDP due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Micronutrient interventions would cost less than US $8 million a year.
The Zimbabwean government, consumers, and food producers worked together with Project Healthy Children (PHC), UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations toward realizing the fortification mandate. People from Zimbabwe have also participated in Smarter Futures training events such as a maize strategy meeting in October 2016 and a quality assurance and quality control workshop in 2015. Smarter Futures is a partnership that includes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, AkzoNobel, the Food Fortification Initiative, Helen Keller International (HKI) and the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (IF).
Arthur Pagiwa, Zimbabwe Country Coordinator for PHC, credits the combined efforts of all the sectors for this decision. However, he stresses the work for ending nutritional ailments has just begun.
“[The legislation] is a call to action for the different partners to ensure fortification is a success,” said Pagiwa. “Thus we all have to remain more focused than ever before… we are prepared to continue supporting the process and enforcement of the legislation.”
Now 86 countries have legislation that requires fortification of wheat flour, maize flour, and/or rice. See the updated global map on our website.
Zimbabwe photo by the UK Department for International Development @Flickr Creative Commons
2 to 27 - Africa Progress with Flour Fortification Legislation
Countries in Africa have made tremendous progress in passing legislation to fortify flour. In 2002, only two countries on the continent – Nigeria and South Africa – had mandates to fortify industrially milled wheat flour. Now 27 countries require wheat flour fortification, and nine of those include maize flour in the mandate. In addition, millers in three countries voluntarily fortify more than half their industrially milled wheat flour, and in two countries more than half the wheat flour and maize flour are voluntarily fortified.
In October we took time to celebrate this progress (see story and photos). Yet we realize that more work is needed to maximize the potential of grain fortification to improve health throughout Africa. See the following stories for updates on these efforts.
Potential to reach 130 million people in Africa
Did you know that outside of Asia, the highest consumption of rice occurs in West African countries? This year, in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), we analyzed opportunities for fortified rice to improve nutrition in Africa.
Rice is a staple food in 19 countries in Africa, but it is mostly milled in small, local operations where fortification is not feasible. Yet in 12 countries, fortification of imported rice has the potential to reach 130 million people.
We hope that this effort will help partners develop a strategy for scaling up rice fortification in the African continent. Click here to see the summary of the analysis and individual country profiles.
Globally, 371,704,171 metric tons of rice were available for human consumption in 2011, the most recent year with data available, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Of that total, we estimate that 230,333,404 metric tons are industrially milled, yet less than 1% of industrially milled rice is fortified.
Six countries have mandatory rice fortification legislation, and most of the efforts are pilot projects or programs that provide free or subsidized food to selected populations. See this map for locations.
Strategy for Africa being prepared
Though maize flour is commonly consumed in parts of Africa, less than 30% of the industrially milled maize flour on the continent is fortified. To identify the existing maize production and fortification practices, Smarter Futures conducted a scoping study earlier this year. Smarter Futures is a partnership for Africa that includes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, AkzoNobel, the Food Fortification Initiative (FFI), Helen Keller International (HKI) and the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (IF).
The author of the scoping study noted that data either did not exist or was difficult to obtain in many of the countries. Results were presented during a maize fortification workshop in October in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Participants from 14 countries discussed the opportunities and challenges of fortification and added missing information from their country to the study. See the meeting report for all presentations as well as country-specific plans for scaling up maize fortification.
A maize strategy for Africa is being prepared based on the findings of the scoping study and the workshop participants. It will be shared with partners early next year.
In the meantime, check out the newly released World Health Organization guidelines for fortifying maize flour. Like the guidelines for wheat flour fortification, these include recommended levels and types of iron, folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and zinc based on the availability of flour. The maize guidelines also include levels of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, and pantothenic acid to use to restore the nutrients lost in the milling process.
|Participants at the maize strategy workshop in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania|
Training of Trainers
A Training of Trainers workshop in September was the first step toward developing a cohort of flour fortification specialists in West Africa. These specialists in turn can advise others in the region on fortification issues such as working with a multi-sector alliance, developing legislation and standards, and implementing monitoring procedures.
Participants came from six countries to the meeting in Abuja, Nigeria. The individuals had a range of fortification experiences and a variety of career backgrounds. See the full meeting report, including list of participants and their evaluations of the training.
While this workshop was conducted in Africa, it is applicable to any region of the world. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in a similar program in your region.
|Attendees at the Training of Trainers workshop in Abuja, Nigeria.|
Online Monitoring Training Available for Groups
“Flour Fortification Monitoring” is a new online training tool to teach basic concepts of internal, external, import, and commercial monitoring. The course was created in collaboration with FFI, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and the IGP Institute at Kansas State University.
The tool guides participants in planning for a monitoring system; engaging in internal, external, import and commercial monitoring activities; and collating, reporting and using monitoring data. Videos, photos and examples enhance the monitoring concepts. Data collection forms are provided to facilitate country-based monitoring activities.
The online course consists of nine modules. The topics are:
- Why Fortify?
- Multi-Sector Alliance and Planning for Fortification Monitoring
- Standards, Premix and Laboratories
- Internal Monitoring
- Regulatory Monitoring Part I: External Monitoring
- Regulatory Monitoring Part II: Import and Commercial Monitoring
- Quality Management Systems
- Reporting and Using Data
The course is available for groups of 10 or more. Leaders can include discussion board dialogue and simple assignments to encourage active participation among the learners. Participants move through the modules at their own pace, but they must pass a quiz after each video before going to the next segment. The videos can be streamed with an Internet connection or downloaded for viewing later.
The intended audience includes representatives of government ministries and partner organizations, flour millers, food inspectors and laboratory technicians. The course could be used to guide country leaders who are planning for fortification, to train staff working on fortification programs, or to facilitate a baseline level of knowledge among individuals preparing to attend a fortification workshop - just to name a few ideas.
Students who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate and earn one continuing education credit. Contact us at email@example.com for more information.