Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Scaling up Food Fortification in Pakistan: A Feasable Option

by Samar Zuberi
Photo Credit: Aga Khan University – Farheen Ayub Khan
A recent food fortification scoping study endorses food fortification strategies in Pakistan. The report was commissioned by DFID Pakistan and conducted by MQSUN. Local analysis on effective means to address micronutrient undernourishment or ‘hidden hunger’ is much needed. Over half of Pakistan’s population of children under 5 suffer from anaemia and vitamin A deficiency and 39% are zinc deficient. Half of non-pregnant mothers are anaemic, and 42% are deficient in vitamin A and, the same percentage are deficient in zinc (NNS 2011).
The report provides a landscape analysis of food fortification interventions in Pakistan. It highlights lack of legislation and weak monitoring and evaluation systems as the main weaknesses in the regulatory environment, while procurement of additional inputs and internal quality control as the main barriers the private sector faces at a manufacturing level. The report also assesses the feasibility of implementation and impact of four select interventions, and conducts an analysis of these interventions. The four interventions the report examines are:
  1. Wheat flour fortification with iron;
  2. Edible oil/ghee with vitamin A and D;
  3. Biofortification of wheat with iron and zinc;
  4. Zinc-fortified fertilizers.
The report categorizes the last two options as agricultural solutions and determines that these require further evaluations to assess their feasibility, whereas the first two present viable options for delivering micronutrients on a large scale. Applying a broader perspective, all four interventions involve agriculture; the first two options directly involve locally produced agricultural inputs, whereas the last two involve agricultural technological innovation.

The study as a whole in fact lends a strong foundation to LANSA Pakistan’s work on a mutli-country research study which aims to answer the question ‘What public and private actions are needed to strengthen the impacts of agri-food value chains on nutrition?’ More on this LANSA study can be found here.