MFI to Address Food Fortification Challenge

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By Omolabake Fasogbon

An International Nonprofit Organization, TechnoServe, has reinstated it commitment to tackling malnutrition through the Micronutrient Fortification Index (MFI).

MFI is a self- regulatory system designed to incentivize food processors to meet government standards for fortifying products with essential vitamins and minerals.

The innovation is designed through Strengthening African Processors of Fortified Foods (SAPFF) programme.

Since SAPFF began three years ago, Nigeria supply of fortified wheat flour and sugar has increased by 68% and 200%, respectively, enabling over 90% of the country’s population to access the products. Technoserve assured that MFI will sustain and improve the positive trends.

According to Technoserve, The process to develop the MFI was triggered by an industry request made during the inaugural Nigerian Food Processing and Nutrition Leadership Forum in June 2018 to conceptualize a cost-effective strategy.

“Participating in the MFI contributes to efforts aimed at establishing a level playing field for compliant and non-compliant processors. The index’s ultimate objective is to provide a quality mark for an increasingly discerning consumer base.”

At the recently concluded Third Annual Food Processing and Nutritional Leadership Forum, convened virtually by Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Mr. Bill Gates, keynote speaker Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo said, “The Micronutrient Fortification Index (MFI) is an interesting innovation that will motivate industries to self-regulate in meeting government standards for food fortification.

“The use of this tool should be adopted by all companies involved in fortification and I believe it should be made available to stakeholders and shareholders alike. We should be able to hold them accountable as they strive to meet industry benchmarks, including compliance with Nigerian Fortification Standards. Government regulatory agencies will definitely find the tool useful in support of industry regulation efforts and consumer expectations.”

So far, 12 processors, including Flour Mills of Nigeria plc, PZ Wilmar Limited, Olam (which now encompasses Dangote Flour Mills) and Honeywell Flour Mills Plc., have signed up to the index, with keen interest from other participants to join the process in 2021, when the index will scale up to capture other players.