By Doris Obinna
Olam Agri has said it is committed to helping to raise the standard of public health as it contributes to meeting the growing demand for healthy foods across the African continent and beyond.
Speaking at the recently concluded World Economic Forum (WEF), senior vice president, Olam Agri, Ashish Pande, said Olam Agri would deliver one trillion servings of fortified food wheat flour, edible oil, rice to provide essential micronutrients to over 250 million people each day by 2030.
“Food fortification is at the core of Olam Agri’s purpose of transforming food, feed, and fibre for a sustainable future. In 2021, we produced more than 83 billion servings of fortified foods for consumers in Africa, which included fortified rice in Ghana and Cameroon.
“Our commitment goes beyond meeting regulatory requirements to addressing the important nutrient gaps faced by millions of people. By 2030, we pledge to deliver 1 trillion servings of fortified food – wheat flour, edible oil, rice to provide essential micronutrients to over 250 million people each day,” Pande said.
“Global food fortification actions are coming under sharp scrutiny. A discourse around the fortification of staple foods such as rice and wheat, and how to build a consensus around unified strategies suitable for reducing malnutrition on a global scale garnered attention at the recently concluded WEF 2023 in Davos, Switzerland.
“It is estimated that three billion people cannot afford a healthy diet annually. This unhealthy population is expected to rise by 267.6 million due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, reaching people with micronutrients such as Vitamin A, iron, zinc, iodine, and folate on a global scale is seen as strategic to halting the unfavourable rise in unhealthy diets.
“WEF gathers global leaders and key decision-makers across the globe annually to initiate dialogue and drive cooperation that will help navigate the pressing challenges impacting the health of the global economy. This year, the forum mobilized food processors, partner governments, technical agencies, and key donors to address nutrition issues, as well as deepen collaboration and partnership in providing solutions to the issues.”
Underlining the need for and advantages of partnerships between millers and technical partners to help address unhealthy diets, Pande said, “Thanks to our partnership with TechnoServe, we have installed premix facilities across our local food manufacturing facilities. The premix facility is automated, and the process is controlled to ensure the persistence of quality premix and consistent supply of nourishing foods across our operating markets.”
Diving into the barriers and solutions to scale fortification initiatives on the globe, Vice Chairman, Food System Champion Network, and moderator at the WEF session, Paul Newnham, said that millers are a powerful new ally in the global fight against malnutrition.
“One in two children and two in three women face at least one micronutrient deficiency. Fortification has a critical role to play. From consumer education to regulatory frameworks, millers face key barriers in producing fortified foods. Millers need to be put on a level playing field, with equal partnerships between business and millers.”
To round off the discourse on food fortification at the forum, a formidable initiative tagged ‘Miller 4 Nutrition Global Coalition’ was launched.
According to Newnham, the initiative aims to gather millers of all sizes and diverse actors to improve nutrition worldwide.
“The World Economic Forum Food Systems Initiative stimulates multi-sectoral leadership to support collective regional and country-led action, and advancing global insight and policy, to accelerate food systems transformations aimed at finding solutions to malnutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and hunger.”