This response tries to answer the question: What policies can make agriculture and food systems more nutrition-enhancing? What are the knowledge gaps in policies associated with nutrition-enhancing agriculture and food systems?
Food fortification has been recognised as one of the important strategy for increase the micro-nutrient content of available foods, especially post farm gate level. In the context of Ethiopia, this is essentially important as Food Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, also known as micronutrient malnutrition, represent a severe public health problem in Ethiopia. More than half of children and a quarter of adult women are anaemic.1 Nearly 40% of children are vitamin A deficient.2 As a consequence, the nation’s GDP is depressed by nearly half a billion dollars annually and each year more than 50 thousand children die as a consequence of vitamin A, iron and folic acid deficiencies. These losses limit capacity to meet national objectives for reducing mortality, poverty and malnutrition as well as economic development.
The National Nutrition Program (NNP) presents an opportunity to build on the current portfolio of affordable and effective micronutrient interventions and bring them to full scale. Food fortification can play a key role within the context of comprehensive multiple strategies to reduce micronutrient deficiencies. Wheat flour, edible oil and sugar are three traditionally proven food fortification vehicles with high consumption, wide distribution and centralized processing required by fortification. This report assesses the feasibility of a national fortification program including these three food vehicles.
Based on this, Concern Worldwide with support from the World Bank undertook an assessment of Food Fortification and its potential in Ethiopia ( copy of the report is enclosed). This answered the current level of food fortification initiatives and the knowledge gap. The report was approved by the Government of Ethiopia and the findings from the study were used to influence new National Nutrition Programme (2013-2015). The findings are also being used to develop capacity building strategy for Food Fortification Initiatives. Once implement, this will help the country to reduce micro-nutrient deficiencies in a large scale.