Zimbabwe’s Minister of Health and Child Care David Parirenyatwa, has called for the crafting of a policy compelling food processors to add micro nutrients such as iron, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B into their products during the production process. The Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LFSP) is already ahead of addressing this need by working alongside other partners to promote biofortification of seed. Under the LFSP’s Agricultural Productivity and Nutrition component implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation, orange maize enriched with vitamin-A and beans enriched with Zinc and Iron minerals are at the forefront of the efforts to tackle malnutrition. On 18 August, the national programme on biofortification was officially launched at the Seedco depot in Harare.
Speaking at the launch of widespread marketing and distribution of high nutrient crop seed varieties – Vitamin A orange maize and zinc beans – for the 2016 to 2017 agricultural season, Parirenyatwa said industrial fortification of food would help in promoting a healthy nation.
“We should introduce mandatory industrial fortification of food even to stock feed manufacturers so that we can have nutrients readily available in the food,” he said.
“Orange maize adds nutritional value to the body as it contains Vitamin A which reduces the risk of illness and increases growth. Nearly one in every five children under the age of five is Vitamin A-deficient and this has put pressure on the national health system.”
Parirenyatwa said also endorsed the production of bio-fortified beans, rich in iron and zinc, which reduce cases of anaemia mostly found in children under the age of five and women between 15 and 49 years. The production and consumption of high vitamin A maize and high iron and zinc beans is being implemented in eight districts, namely Makoni, Mutare, Mutasa, Mt Darwin, Guruve, Gokwe South and Shurugwi, through the Livelihood and Food Security Programme (LFSP) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.
FAO sub-regional director David Phiri told the gathering that LFSP was also promoting production of other crops to address the country’s food shortages. “In the LFSP, bio-fortified crops are also promoted with other crops because their consumption only will not address the hunger and issues of malnutrition in Zimbabwe,” Phiri said.
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This landmark event received wide media coverage including the following: