The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is working with the National and County governments to enforce compliance on food fortification laws through surveillance.
GAIN has been working in the country to improve Kenya’s nutrition situation by addressing the availability, accessibility, affordability and desirability of nutritional foods since 2010.
According to GAINs Country Director Leah Kaguara they have been supporting the government on fortification of packaged maize flour, wheat flour and edible oil mandated trough policy enactment.
Speaking during celebrations of GAINs 20 years in existence and working in Kenya for the last 12 years, , the Director said the biggest challenge had been compliance but the government has addressed this by moving to counties and involving health offices and a lot of SMEs who cannot afford the technologies to be able to fortify their products.
She noted that the main purpose of the organization has been to ensure that all people affected by malnutrition can be able to access safe nutrition food and that the food consumed is fortified with micro nutrients.
“The rate of compliance in terms of statistic’s its about 40 percent but also varies from millers to millers and most of them have been complying and Kenyans should therefore be confident when they buy packaged flour that it is fortified , it is safe” , she said
Kaguara noted that they have been working with businesses, markets, last mile vendors just to ensure all can access safe food right at their door steps.
Through the SUN Business Network (SBN) , she said , they have so far signed up about 130 small, medium and large enterprises business across food value chains and counties in order to contribute to the reduction of malnutrition by enabling businesses to supply safe and nutritious food to consumers.
The government, she explained is the one that has been providing the leadership of the SUN Business Network (SBN) through the ministry of health, trade and agriculture.
“Making sure that consumers and also the providers of the key staple foods namely millers and manufacturer’s package and fortify the productions in the right way but also make consumers aware of the nutritious food to consume”, she added
“As GAIN, we are happy that the government follow up on compliance on the right fortification standards and what Kenyans consume is safe and fortified with the right nutrients
The Director appealed to Kenyan to buy packaged foods especially maize and wheat flour that have a marked label ‘food fortified ‘showing that the food is certified and has the right minerals and nutrients.
Kaguara said that moving forward GAIN in the next five to 10 years, their intention and goal is to make all consumers aware and also make the right choices for good nutrition.
Dr. Andrew Mulwa, Ag. Director Ministry of Health and Head of Nutrition services said that the ministry of health, trade and agriculture has been working towards improving the food ecosystem market.
“In 2015 we developed the law on food fortification and it is mandatory now that the big industry players ensure fortification is done and although there are some small and middle enterprises which might not have the capacity do this, government with organizations such as GAIN are working with SMEs to get the capacity and equipment in assisting them”, he said
Dr. Mulwa added the government has made major strides in food fortification especially in Vitamin A. “ Over 80 percent of our food is fortified with Vitamin A and the ministry of health has set the standards and is working with SMEs and also posho mills to ensure they comply ”.
Food fortification is a cost-effective strategy for prevention and management of micronutrient deficiencies, and allows for high population coverage. With support from the government and development partners, Kenya has made some good progress in fortification
The Current data indicates that 24 wheat millers are fortifying about 80% of wheat flour in the market, 47 maize millers are fortifying 37 percent of maize flour, 14 oil processors are fortifying 87 percent of the vegetable oil and fats in the market, and three large-scale salt processors are fortifying 99.9 percent of salt produced in the country.
By Wangari Ndirangu