Fortification Projects Receive Highest Performance Ranking

02 September 2014

Two projects related to grain fortification received the highest performance ranking possible in an evaluation of Schokland and Millennium Agreements. The Smarter Futures partnership for Africa and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) Premix Facility were among seven projects rated as having “very good overall performance.”

“This is excellent affirmation of the hard work all of our partners do to improve health by fortifying cereal grains,” said Scott J. Montgomery, Director of the Food Fortification Initiative (FFI; formerly the Flour Fortification Initiative).

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized the Pact of Schokland in 2007 to accelerate Dutch contributions towards the Millennium Development Goals. The related projects were evaluated in an effort to improve public-private partnership policy in the context of development cooperation and trade. In the evaluation final report released in March 2014, Smarter Futures and the GAIN Premix Facility both received a ranking of 96 percent based on a weighted composite score of development results, sustainability, and innovation.

In 2011, FFI estimated that seven countries in Africa were fortifying at least 75 percent of their industrially milled wheat flour; now FFI estimates that at least 19 countries have reached that level of fortification. The Smarter Futures partnership has contributed to the success of wheat and maize flour fortification in Africa with advocacy, training, technical support, and guidance on standards harmonization. Smarter Futures partners include AkzoNobel, the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, Helen Keller International, and FFI.

In addition to the official Smarter Futures partners, success in Africa reflects the commitment of multiple groups involved in implementation. This includes numerous non-governmental groups, country government leaders, flour millers, and civil society organizations. “Without the cooperation of all these parties, fortification in Africa would have made virtually no progress,” Montgomery noted.

Premix is the blend of vitamins and minerals added to flour in the fortification process. The GAIN Premix Facility reviews providers of vitamin and minerals used in food fortification and certifies those which meet quality guidelines. Through this step and a competitive procurement process, the facility helps ensure a reliable supply of affordable, quality vitamins and minerals for food fortification.

The Schokland assessment highlighted the important role and impact of the GAIN Premix Facility in its three areas of focus: procurement, quality, and financial access for premix. It also noted GAIN’s and the Premix Facility’s recent growth intro broader quality assurance and quality control technical assistance.

Increasing a population’s vitamin and mineral intake by fortifying wheat and maize flour and rice increases productivity, improves children’s cognitive development, and reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida. Fortification also has economic consequences as a country benefits from increased productivity and averted healthcare costs.