Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE country’s cooking oil producers have all complied with Government’s directive to fortify their products.
Oil Expressers Association of Zimbabwe (OEAZ) president Mr Busisa Moyo confirmed that all oil producers were now fortifying their products.
“All Oil Expressers are now fortifying,” said Mr Moyo.
Cooking oil is being be fortified with Vitamin A. Fortification entails adding minute levels of vitamins and minerals to foods during processing to increase micro-nutrient intake in the population. Some of the foods include cooking oil, sugar, wheat, flour and commercially milled maize meal, of which OEAZ and millers saw fortification as an extra cost.
According to the National Micronutrient Survey (NMS) 2012, women and children are deficient of major micronutrients which are necessary for growth and development. The NMS says 21 percent of children ages six to 59 months were vitamin A deficient, 32 percent of children aged six to59 months were anaemic while 72 percent were iron deficient.
About 24 percent of woman of child-bearing age (15 to 49 years) were vitamin A deficient and nine percent had night blindness, while 26 percent of child bearing age were anaemic and 62 percent were iron deficient according to NMS.
The Government said addressing these challenges takes a comprehensive approach that would encompass even the most vulnerable population in the country.
The country adopted food fortification in 1994, when mandatory salt iodations was introduced as a measure to eradicate iodine deficiency disorder including goiter.
Mr Moyo said as part of curbing rampant price hikes by unscrupulous retailers OEAZ was now advertising recommended selling prices on the press.
“The OEAZ members are now issuing recommended selling prices periodically in a similar fashion to the beverages sector,” he said.
The industry needs a supply of about 240 000 tonnes of soya beans to curb imports. Soya production has drastically fallen from 180 000 tonnes in 2001 to 30 000 tonnes in 2016 with oil output of 30 600 tonnes and 5 100 tonnes respectively.
The other oil seed crop, cotton’s production has also been on a downward trend with the tonnage falling from 350 000 tonnes in 2001 to a low of 3 825 tonnes in 2016. As a result of the continued decline in oil seed crop production the country was importing 93 percent of its requirements two years ago.