Millers want food fortification deferred

Source: Millers want food fortification deferred – DailyNews Live

Bridget Mananavire      6 July 2017

HARARE – Grain millers have appealed to Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa
to intervene and defer the implementation of the mandatory food
fortification programme indefinitely.

Government has decreed through Statutory Instrument 120 of 2016 that the
public health intervention should have started July 1.

It seeks to prevent micronutrient deficiencies by adding minute levels of
vitamins and minerals to foods during processing.

The food vehicles targeted for fortification are maize meal, cooking oil,
sugar and wheat flour.

Sugar will be fortified with vitamin A; cooking oil with vitamin A and D;
and wheat flour and maize meal with vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folic
acid, iron and zinc.

Only fortification of salt with iodine is mandatory in Zimbabwe now, and
fortification of the above mentioned food vehicles has become mandatory
starting July 1.

The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (Gmaz) has stayed its legal
action and appealed to Mnangagwa to force Health and Child Care minister
David Parirenyatwa – who has refused to give an extension on the
implementation of the fortification programme – to budge.

This comes as oil pressers have also asked for a 12-month extension of the
policy implementation, arguing they were facing critical foreign currency
constraints, fortification equipment problems and non-availability of
fortificants locally.

GMAZ chairperson Tafadzwa Musarara said in the July 3 letter to Mnangagwa:
“We are requesting your esteemed office to kindly assist the grain milling
industry in having the mandatory fortification programme deferred
indefinitely until the following is achieved: Extensive and nationwide
engagement of consumers and all other key stakeholders on the subject of

The association was appealing to Mnangagwa as the chairperson of the
Cabinet Committee on Food Security and Nutrition and as leader of the
Command Agriculture programme.

The millers are proposing that the deferment be indefinite until there has
been establishment of local fortificant producers and proper training of
milling laboratory staff.

“(Should be deferred until) establishment of local manufacturing of food
fortificants and food dossier machinery; crafting of an effective
fortification operation plan that will precisely deliver to affected
population segments;  comprehensive training of milling laboratory staff
in pre-production testing and production application and  indemnification
of participating millers against arising lawsuit consequent to application
of fortificants.

“The waiver provision offered by Health (ministry) is not useful and
relevant as ultimately all millers had to comply.

“We are most importantly, worried that this mandatory fortification
exercise which is fatally coinciding with the commencement of the funding
of $200 million by millers for maize grown under the Command Agriculture
programme, will dissuade my members to extend the funds and consequently
prejudicing farmers and the general architecture of the Command
Agriculture programme,” the letter read.

A survey by the Daily News revealed that there was a slow start to the
fortification programme, with supermarket shelves containing both
fortified and unfortified products.

Most sugar products have been fortified, together with cereals, but maize
meal and cooking oil is yet to be fortified.