Maputo — Mozambican food processing companies are to embark on a food fortification programme, seeking to reduce current levels of malnutrition.
The fortification consists of adding small amounts of vitamin A, iron, folic acid, B-complex vitamins and zinc during processing.
On Wednesday, the Minister of Industry and Trade, Armando Inroga, delivered the first fortification equipment to the country's largest food processing companies, the Companhia Industrial de Matola (CIM) and MEREC. Both these companies produce maize and wheat flour, pasta, biscuits and animal feed.
Inroga told reporters “CIM and MEREC will produce foods fortified with micronutrients through the machines that the Ministry of Industry and Trade is offering. This is intended to reduce chronic malnutrition, particularly among children”.
The government has set up the National Food Fortification Committee (CONFAM), with the specific task of ensuring that micronutrients are added to foodstuffs.
CONFAM is jointly chaired by Inroga's Ministry and the Health Ministry.
The project's implementing agency is Helen Keller International (HKI), working in close collaboration with the UN World Food Programme (WFP), and the NGOs World Vision and Population Services International (PSI).
Inroga said that the first phase of the food fortification programme will last for a year. During this time the fortification machinery will be installed in all major food processing industries across the country. Inroga put the total cost of the project at 400,000 dollars.
HKI is an international not-for-profit organisation dedicated to fighting blindness and malnutrition throughout the world. It has been active in Mozambique, particularly in Vitamin A supplementation, since 1997.
It states that the objective of the Food Fortification Programme is “to increase the supply of high quality, affordable fortified products and increase consumer awareness/demand for these products in order to reduce morbidity and mortality in the Mozambican population, especially among women of reproductive age and children”.
It adds that improving the consumption of micronutrient-rich foods and the mass fortification of staples such as maize flour “is central to the Mozambican Government's strategy to reduce chronic malnutrition”.