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Parirenyatwa vows to fortify food for health, says move wont affect local millers's business

20/06/2017 00:00:00
by Staff reporter
 
We must do it ... Minister David Parirenyatwa
 
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HEALTH minister David Parirenyatwa says government will not relent on its plans to commence food fortification next month, despite calls by the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) for government to halt its plans.

The association argued that its members – saddled with huge operational costs – will not be able to bear the costs of importing necessary substances and the machinery.

Food fortification is a process of adding micronutrients to food and is meant to prevent deficiency diseases such as anaemia, mental retardation and goitre.

Government is targeting to fortify maize meal, wheat flour, sugar and cooking oil.

Parirenyatwa said companies that are not able to comply with the July 1 deadline will have to apply for a waiver from government.

“To smaller producers of mealie meal and the medium ones we are saying you can apply to us and we will give you a waiver but the waiver is time based, three months, six months and you give us your plan.

“We must fortify our foods for the sake of the health of our people,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.

In response to concerns from millers, Parirenyatwa said he had engaged their association as the process is meant to improve the health status of the country’s citizens.

“We have been with the Grain Millers Association. When I went to Tanzania for a conference on food fortification, we actually went with Mr (Tafadzwa) Musarara (GMAZ chairman). He is aware of all these issues and this will benefit our country in terms of health,” he said.

The minister said the introduction of fortificants will not lead to prize hikes of the targeted products as argued by GMAZ.

“We will look at duty exemptions of the fortificants that are coming in and that will lower the cost even further,” added the minister.

He refuted reports that food fortification is akin to genetically modifying the food products.

The strategy was developed to address the micronutrient deficiency burden in the country as revealed by the 2012 Zimbabwe Micronutrient Survey.

According to the survey, 19% of children 6—59 months are vitamin A deficient, whilst 72% have iron deficiency, and 31% are anaemic, and nearly 1.5 million working age adults with anaemia suffer deficits in work performance.



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