On expectations in improving nutrition and food security in Asia:
One key issue in human nutrition is that science is still too open for wide interpretation. It has been established through the animal health science but also through successful feeding programs by the WFP in refugee camps and crisis feeding that only a well-balanced nutrient portfolio shows desired results in improving the health status of targeted populations. The argument of too high cost is not valid, the cost to provide all essential B-vitamins to 100 mio people is estimated at approx. 15 mio US$ per year.
Given the significance of the first 1000 days it is important that adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating mothers receive foods that have a balanced nutrient portfolio. If dietary diversity is too expensive the cheapest and most effective way is fortification of locally accepted foodstuffs.
ARoFIIN is currently studying the existing information on the nutrient gap between actual intake and the WHO recommendations for targeted population groups. With this data we will discuss with the food industry what nutritional interventions are possible.
Governments and the UN can contribute to allow accessibility and distribution of these foodstuffs and approve locally acceptable, highly fortified low cost food solutions.
On critical activities:
Educational programs on the importance of dietary variety is essential, i.e. home gardening for rural populations and the increased use of vegetables and fruit for urban poulations. For policy discussions an important aspect is how fruit and vegetable can become more affordable to increase usage in the food portfolio.
Policy makers, health authorities and the food industry need to engage in discussions aiming to widen the access to dietary diversity but also to fortified foods.
When mandated food fortification is discussed we need to realize the the past iron / folic acid fortification strategy of many countries was not successful. Reconstitution of rice and wheat to its original nutrition content before milling is essential.
On quality of commitments
15% of the processed food supply is provided by the multinational food companies, 85% by small medium enterprises.
If business cases to support the fortification of foodstuffs can be created the commitment to provide more healthy food choices can be increased. The UN should work with the food industry to discuss, develop and support the free access to nutritious food solutions.