Manda­tory food for­ti­fi­ca­tion on the cards

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Elita Chik­wati Harare Bu­reau

THE Govern­ment is in the process of draft­ing a statu­tory in­stru­ment mak­ing it manda­tory for in­dus­try to for­tify (add nu­tri­ents to) food dur­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing and pro­cess­ing to curb mal­nu­tri­tion, a se­nior of­fi­cial has said.

This comes as the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try has de­vel­oped high nu­tri­ent crop va­ri­eties, also called bio-for­ti­fied crops, that in­clude vi­ta­min A maize and iron and zinc beans.

The De­part­ment of Re­search Spe­cial­ist Ser­vices in the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture Mech­a­ni­sa­tion and Ir­ri­ga­tion De­vel­op­ment in col­lab­o­ra­tion with In­ter­na­tional Maize and Wheat Im­prove­ment Cen­tre (CIMMYT), and In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for Trop­i­cal Agri­cul­ture (CIAT) came up with high nu­tri­ent crops which are now avail­able on the mar­ket.

Launch­ing the mar­ket­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion of the for­ti­fied crops for the 2016/2017 farm­ing sea­son at Sta­ple­ford in Harare yes­ter­day, Min­is­ter of Health and Child Care, Dr David Parireny­atwa said the Govern­ment launched a Na­tional Food For­ti­fi­ca­tion Strat­egy to pre­vent and con­trol mi­cro nu­tri­ent de­fi­ciency dis­or­ders among peo­ple.

Mi­cro nu­tri­ent de­fi­ciency is preva­lent in women and chil­dren un­der five years, es­pe­cially in ru­ral ar­eas.

He said vi­ta­min A de­fi­cient chil­dren un­der the age of five face a higher risk of death be­fore their fifth birth­day while ane­mia due to iron de­fi­ciency among preg­nant women con­trib­uted to high rates of pre­ma­tu­rity, low birth weight and in­fant mor­tal­ity.

Cook­ing oil, wheat flour, maize meal and su­gar will be put un­der com­pul­sory for­ti­fi­ca­tion as the prod­ucts reach up to 90 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion.

“Ad­dress­ing the wide­spread of mal­nu­tri­tion in Zim­babwe re­quires a com­pre­hen­sive ap­proach. Po­ten­tial in­ter­ven­tions in­clude mi­cro-nu­tri­ent sup­ple­men­ta­tion, in­dus­trial food for­ti­fi­ca­tion, bio for­ti­fi­ca­tion; di­etary di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion cou­pled with nu­tri­tion ed­u­ca­tion and syn­er­gis­tic pub­lic health in­ter­ven­tions such as con­trol of in­testi­nal par­a­sites.

“Na­tional for­ti­fi­ca­tion stan­dards have been de­vel­oped and a statu­tory in­stru­ment to man­date for­ti­fi­ca­tion is be­ing drafted. Tech­ni­cal of­fi­cers in the min­istry are in dis­cus­sions with the in­dus­try to sup­port them ini­ti­ate for­ti­fi­ca­tion of these ve­hi­cles and you may al­ready have seen some prod­ucts in­di­cat­ing that these foods are for­ti­fied,” he said.

Dr Parireny­atwa said an as­sess­ment on the de­vel­op­ment of the strat­egy re­vealed that while con­sump­tion of maize was high in Zim­babwe, less than 40 per­cent of con­sumers re­lied on the mar­ket for ac­cess­ing it.

He said the larger pro­por­tion, es­pe­cially in ru­ral ar­eas, rely on own pro­duc­tion or buy­ing from other farm­ers.

“It is for this rea­son that in ad­di­tion to in­dus­trial for­ti­fi­ca­tion other for­ti­fi­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies will be em­ployed and pro­moted to en­sure max­i­mum reach of all peo­ple in a sus­tain­able way. These will in­clude pro­mo­tion of pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion of high nu­tri­ent crop va­ri­eties par­tic­u­larly maize, beans and orange fleshed sweet pota­toes,” he said.

Dr Parireny­atwa com­mended the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Mech­a­ni­sa­tion and Ir­ri­ga­tion De­vel­op­ment, Food for Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion (FAO) and seed com­pa­nies for com­ing up with the tech­nol­ogy of pro­duc­ing high nu­tri­ent crops. He said there is a need to in­vest in the mar­ket­ing and nu­tri­tion be­hav­iour change com­mu­ni­ca­tion to raise aware­ness on the mag­ni­tude of the prob­lem of mi­cronu­tri­ent de­fi­cien­cies in the coun­try and its con­se­quences on the health and de­vel­op­ment of the na­tion.

Agri­cul­ture Mech­a­ni­sa­tion and Ir­ri­ga­tion De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Dr Joseph Made said his min­istry is con­cerned about the im­pact of pro­duc­tion on the quan­tity, qual­ity and nu­tri­tive value of food.

In a speech read on his be­half by De­part­ment of Re­search and Spe­cial­ist Ser­vices prin­ci­pal di­rec­tor Dr Danisile Hikwa, Dr Made said his min­istry col­lab­o­rated with other part­ners and in­sti­tu­tions na­tion­ally, re­gion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

“The bio for­ti­fi­ca­tion of crops is a com­po­nent of the DFID funded Liveli­hood and Food se­cu­rity Pro­gramme aimed at pro­mot­ing pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion of bi­o­log­i­cally for­ti­fied crop va­ri­eties and in this case vi­ta­min A and beans with iron and zinc.

“The Crop Breed­ing In­sti­tute has con­tin­ued to part­ner the In­ter­na­tional Maize and Wheat Im­prove­ment Cen­tre (CIMMYT) and CIAT to de­velop, test and reg­is­ter maize and bean va­ri­eties with high vi­ta­mins and min­eral con­tent.

“The bi­o­log­i­cal for­ti­fi­ca­tion process of de­vel­op­ing nu­tri­ent dense va­ri­eties has been done us­ing con­ven­tional breed­ing meth­ods of germplasm se­lec­tion. Zim­babwe has now for­ti­fied crop va­ri­eties. REL­A­TIVES of vic­tims of po­lit­i­cal dis­tur­bances in the 1980s in Mata­bele­land and the Mid­lands prov­inces seek­ing to ex­hume re­mains of their fam­ily mem­bers for re­buri­als should ap­proach the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs.

Vice Pres­i­dent Emmerson Mnan­gagwa, who is also the Min­is­ter of Jus­tice, Le­gal and Par­lia­men­tary Af­fairs, told Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day that ev­ery Zim­bab­wean de­serves a de­cent burial, thus the need to ap­proach the rel­e­vant Min­istry.

Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe has de­scribed the pe­riod of po­lit­i­cal dis­tur­bances as a mo­ment of mad­ness and a sad chap­ter in the coun­try’s his­tory.

VP Mnan­gagwa was re­spond­ing to a ques­tion posed by Mata­bele­land South pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion MP Priscilla Misi­hairabwi-Mushonga who asked the VP on pro­ce­dures to be taken by rel­a­tives of vic­tims seek­ing to re-bury their rel­a­tives. “There are a lot of peo­ple who were killed dur­ing the Guku­rahundi pe­riod. I am say­ing the vil­lagers want the bod­ies to be ex­humed and re­buried prop­erly, how can they go about it,” she asked.

Ms Misi­hairabwi-Mushonga said her ques­tion was em­a­nat­ing from what she ob­served in Mashona­land where war veter­ans were ex­hum­ing and re­bury­ing re­mains of free­dom fighters that are not prop­erly buried.

VP Mnan­gagwa said all mat­ters of re­buri­als should be re­ferred to the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs.

“If my niece was lis­ten­ing prop­erly, I have said that all those whose re­mains have not been prop­erly buried all over the coun­try, all such mat­ters should be re­ferred to the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs, they are the rel­e­vant au­thor­ity that deals with such is­sues,” said the VP.

“It could be that they know that here in Mashona­land, the war veter­ans are go­ing around the coun­try look­ing for their fel­low veter­ans who were not prop­erly buried and re­bury­ing them. We can­not or­der these war veter­ans to do that but this can be done by the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs. They have a de­part­ment that could deal with that. If there are re­mains that need to be re­buried, that can be done by that Min­istry.” — @nqot­shili

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