The Chairperson of the National Food Fortification Alliance or NFA Mr. Rufus Kakar stresses a need for government and other relevant stakeholders to make food fortification a priority for the well being of citizens.
Addressing a huge crow over the weekend at the official launch of the National Food Fortification Alliance Day in Sinkor, Monrovia the NFA Chairperson says officials of the institution have seen the pivotal role Food Fortification plays in the life of a person and they want to ensure that both the Government of Liberia and the private sector exert all efforts in making food fortification a priority for the wellbeing of Liberian consumers.
He says the National Food Fortification Alliance of Liberia has concretized its relationship with the National Consumers Association of Liberia, which has led to intensive consumer advocacy campaign, raising awareness among consumers on the importance of consuming fortified foods and seeking out the Fortification Logo on foodstuffs in the market such as wheat flour, cooking oil, and Iodine salt.
“As most foods in Liberia are imported, implementation of the program involves significant importer and domestic producers’ engagements”, he says. The launch, which brought together officials of government, international partners, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization ( W.H.O) with host, Ministry of Commerce.
According to Mr. Kakar, the Government of Liberia signed into law the Fortification Regulations on August 8, 2017 and that those new regulations make it mandatory for both domestic producers and importers to fortify wheat flour with nutrient types and levels that match Liberia’s adopted fortification standards.
He says Liberia’s only wheat flour producer, Premier Milling Corporation (PMC), and one of the country’s largest importers of cooking oil, Fouani Brothers, were granted use of the National Fortification Logo after having successfully fulfilled necessary national standard requirements.
Meanwhile, the NFA Chairperson notes that signing of the Fortification Regulations into Law will help combat micronutrient malnutrition vitamin and mineral deficiency, also known as micronutrient malnutrition, is a form of hidden hunger that imposes incredibly high economic costs on countries and contributes substantially to disease on a global level.
He adds that the impacts of an inadequate supply of micronutrients (for example iron, folic acid, zinc, vitamin A, and iodine) are severe leading to infant and maternal death, blindness, weakened immune systems, and mental retardation, while longer-term consequences of such deficiencies can lead to chronic disease.
Mr. Kakar continues that the Government of Liberia has deemed the design and implementation of a national fortification program as a priority intervention to address pressing health challenges. In 2010, a National Fortification Alliance (NFA) was established, led by the Ministries of Health and Commerce and Industry, to spearhead the initiative.
He says National Fortification Guidelines were drafted, outlining stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities, and technical assistance was provided to industry and importers on how to produce and source adequately fortified foods, among others.
By Lewis S. Teh