As part of efforts to address the high rate of malnutrition in Nigeria, the President, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote; Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo and other stakeholders have pledged to achieve 90 per cent compliance on food fortification in the country by 2020.
Speaking at a press briefing to mark the 2nd Annual Nigeria Food Processing and Nutrition Leadership Forum in Lagos last night, Dangote said last year, the country's fortified food compliance rate was 50 per cent, adding that it has now improved to 75 per cent, insisting that by 2020, it is projected to reach 90 per cent if all hands are on deck.
He said: "The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration of Nigeria (NAFDAC) should not only focus on the big players in the food business, they should go after small players as well. That way, we will meet the 90 per cent target.
"On our part as a company, we have ensured Dangote Rice is fortified. We know there's presently a mandate on all locally made rice to be fortified. We trust NAFDAC and Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to ensure this is complied with. We do not expect to have foreign rice in the country anymore, but should they come, the regulatory bodies should also ensure they meet the standard."
Ehanire, on his part, said fortification of food will play a role in addressing malnutrition in the country, adding that children and adults with lack of micronutrients can get them back with fortified foods.
He said: "We encourage fresh foods like vegetable, fruits, and the likes, but for persons who do not take these, fortified foods offer broad nutrients needed. You can imagine what happens when the body lacks iron, iodine, calcium and the likes."
Adebayo said government will ensure the compliance target of 90 per cent by 2020 was met. "The private sector is also very committed to meeting this target."
The Director General, NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye said the agency's enforcement team was ensuring every food production player in the country complies with the standard.
"If samples fail, we do not approve. So, everyone is pushing to meet the target," she added.