Grain Fortification Progress and Opportunities in Africa

Pontsho Sepoloane, a nutrition specialist with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), is interviewed about food fortification to reduce anemia.

In Africa, 26 countries have mandates to fortify wheat flour. Nine of those countries also require fortification of maize flour. Six countries in this region fortify more than half of their industrially milled wheat flour even though it is not mandatory. These include Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Lesotho, Namibia, Sierra Leone, and Swaziland. Two countries – Lesotho and Namibia  – fortify more than 50% of their industrially milled maize flour even though it is not mandatory. In addition, many countries also fortify cooking oil, sugar, and salt as part of their comprehensive nutrition strategy.

See the table below for a list of which countries have mandatory grain fortification, and click on the country name for more information such as the nutrients included in the country standard. See the Global Fortification Data Exchange (GFDx) for information on when the country’s legislation was passed and whether the country also fortifies cooking oil and salt.

Opportunities

Wheat Flour

Across North Africa, wheat is the most widely available cereal grain. Yet Morocco is the only North African country with an active fortification program. Egypt at one time fortified much of its wheat flour, and we are encouraging national leaders to restart the program. Wheat flour fortification in Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya would likely reach the entire population because industrially milled wheat flour is widely available.

In the rest of Africa, wheat is typically imported and milled in large facilities at or close to sea ports. This industry structure allows for cost-effective fortification. Commonly consumed wheat products include bread, pasta, chapati, and small cakes called mandazi that are often sold as snacks in roadside stalls.

Maize Flour

Though maize flour is the primary cereal consumed in many African countries, less than 30% of the industrially milled maize on the continent is fortified. In 2016, representatives of government, grain milling, and development sectors from 14 countries in Africa met to deliberate the need to scale up maize flour fortification programs. Their work resulted in an Africa Maize Fortification Strategy for 2017-2026. The maize strategy is used as a reference to develop national fortification strategies for implementation by maize consuming countries.

Rice

Nineteen countries in Africa have more than 75 grams of rice per person per day available for human consumption. In 12 of these countries, fortification of rice imports and the limited supply for domestically produced, industrially milled rice represents an opportunity to improve nutrition for 146 million people. Currently Mali has a voluntary, market-based rice fortification program. See more information on the potential for rice fortification in Africa.

Harmonized Standards

As Africa experiences a rising trend in economic growth and emerging common markets, regional bodies are harmonizing fortification standards. This facilitates trade across country borders. This has proven particularly effective in West Africa as multiple partners work together to "Fortify West Africa".  See related stories in English and French.

In Eastern, Southern and Central Africa, the common East Africa fortification standards’ have been developed, and other new initiatives are underway at Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC) region.

Partnerships

Smarter Futures is a public-private-civic partnership which provides fortification technical support and training for flour millers, government food control staff, and other stakeholders in Africa. Smarter Futures has been active in Africa since 2009. In 2018 Smarter Futures received renewed funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands to continue its work. The core Smarter Futures partners are FFI, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (IF), and the World Food Programme. A steering team includes the core partners plus AkzoNobel. Other steering team partners are being recruited.

Long-term engagement and collaboration among a broad-based coalition of public, private, and civic partners committed to multiple nutritional interventions is essential for Africa to improve public nutrition and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Fortification Legislation Status by Country and Grain

Click on any of the column headings to sort the list by Country, Wheat Flour, Maize Flour, or Rice.

Country Wheat Flour Maize Flour Rice
Algeria------
Angola------
BeninMandatory----
Botswana------
British Indian Ocean TerritoryTerritoryTerritoryTerritory
Burkina FasoMandatory----
BurundiMandatoryMandatory--
CameroonMandatory----
Cape VerdeMandatory----
Central African Republic------
Chad------
Comoros------
CongoMandatory----
Cote d'IvoireMandatory----
Democratic Republic of the Congo------
DjiboutiMandatory----
EgyptMandatory----
Equatorial Guinea------
Eritrea------
Eswatini, the Kingdom of------
Ethiopia------
Gabon------
Gambia------
GhanaMandatory----
GuineaMandatory----
Guinea-Bissau------
KenyaMandatoryMandatory--
Lesotho------
LiberiaMandatory----
Libya------
Madagascar------
MalawiMandatoryMandatory--
MaliMandatory----
MauritaniaMandatory----
Mauritius------
MayotteTerritoryTerritoryTerritory
MoroccoMandatory----
MozambiqueMandatoryMandatory--
Namibia------
NigerMandatory----
NigeriaMandatoryMandatory--
ReunionTerritoryTerritoryTerritory
Rwanda--Voluntary--
Saint HelenaTerritoryTerritoryTerritory
Sao Tome and Principe------
SenegalMandatory----
Seychelles------
Sierra LeoneVoluntary----
Somalia------
South AfricaMandatoryMandatory--
South Sudan------
Sudan------
Tanzania, United Republic ofMandatoryMandatory--
TogoMandatory----
Tunisia------
UgandaMandatoryMandatory--
Western Sahara------
Zambia------
ZimbabweMandatoryMandatory--

Africa - Fortification Status

Our definition of legislative status is:

  • Mandatory: Legislation has the effect of mandating fortification of one or more type of wheat flour, maize flour, and/or rice with at least iron or folic acid.
  • Voluntary: Country has standard for fortification, but fortification is not mandatory.
  • Territory: Countries that are not listed as United Nations countries or observers or are not recognized by at least one UN country are listed as a territory.
  • Dashes in the table indicate that no information is available. Please send missing information to info@ffinetwork.org

In updating or creating new policy documents for fortification, review this checklist (in English or French) of key topics to include in legislation, standards and monitoring guidelines.

Contact

Events

IAOM MEA Regional Conference and Expo

22 October 2018

Regional Consultative and Capacity Building Workshop on Strengthening Food Fortification Programmes: Monitoring and Surveillance Systems

08 October 2018

Rice Fortification - An Opportunity To Improve Nutrition in West Africa

27 November 2017

Eastern and Southern Africa Training of Trainers

24 July 2017

Training Workshop on Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) for Flour Fortification

15 May 2017

News

L'examen constate que la documentation sur l'enrichissement manque généralement d'éléments clés
29 June 2018

2017 Annual Report
21 March 2018

Abbubakar Bakhresa, Executive Director of Bakhresa & Co Ltd in Tanzania #FFI15
24 October 2017

Terry Wefwafwa, retired from civil service in Kenya #FFI15
24 October 2017

Eduarda Mungoi, Food Scientist and Food Safety Expert in Mozambique #FFI15
24 October 2017

Regional Resources

Fortify Grains to Prevent Neural Tube Defects in Africa: Advocacy Material

FORTIMAS: An approach for tracking population coverage of fortification programs

Africa baking trials show acceptability of iron fortified foods

Monitoring of Flour Fortification: The Case of South Africa

South Africa surveys reveal improvement in iron and vitamin A status of women of reproductive age as well as children

Cameroon reports increases in iron, zinc, folate and vitamin B12 status

Africa Maize Fortification Strategy 2017-2026

Maize flour fortification in Africa is economically feasible and would reduce vitamin and mineral deficiencies

Nigeria: Regulatory monitoring needed to ensure fortification reaches it maximum potential

Food Fortification: Scalable Approaches to Prevent Micronutrient Deficiencies in Populations, presented 15 February 2018

Celebration of Africa's Efforts in Flour Fortification

Material in French

Fortification recommendations in Portuguese