Dar es Salaam — The private sector has been urged to use business skills and opportunities to produce fortified foods in order to eliminate stunting and malnutrition in the country.
The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) country representative and chief executive officer, Mr Enock Musiguzi, revealed this at the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) business network meeting recently.
The meeting, which was themed "mobilizing private sector to make greater contribution towards nutrition goals," attracted several stakeholders.
According to him, private sectors could play a greater role in providing fortified foods and create awareness on nutrition because they are the biggest suppliers of food in most markets.
According to estimates, Tanzania still has more than 2.7 million children under five who are stunted. More than 430,000 children suffer from acute malnutrition. Among these are some 100,000 diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition, which means they have a high risk of dying if they do not receive appropriate treatment.
He noted that if consumption of fortified food was increased, the demand for its products would rise. As a result malnutrition would be reduced in areas prone to reduced micronutrients.
"The biggest number of food suppliers in the country are private sectors. Focus on industrial fortification and recognize your roles accordingly; if you sell food that is fortified malnutrition will be history," he said.
Mr Musiguzi noted that though industrial fortification could not be the only technology to eliminate stunting and malnutrition, there must be other dimensions. "Household awareness on nutritious foods, individuals' efforts to eat balanced meals can help eliminate malnutrition," he said.
Organic Food Associates (OFA) representative Theonest Katunda said that for the past six months they had managed to distribute at least 100 tonnes of fortified maize flour in the city.
He noted very soon they were expecting to introduce a new product that would contain 12 varieties of nutrients.
"Through the GAIN initiative, we are currently discussing with an American company that will help to supply us with technological equipment to increase nutrition on maize flour," he said.
Mr Katunda said since they were in a process of introducing the new product, they were carrying out household-to-household awareness on the importance of nutritious foods.