Globally, more than two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiency - or “hidden hunger” which reduces cognitive development, increases maternal and infant mortality and impacts health and productivity, which exacerbate poverty. Micronutrient deficiencies such as iron deficiency anemia and neural tube defects are a serious public health concern in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Food fortification has been proven to be a long-term cost-effective strategy for addressing micronutrient deficiencies and improving health outcomes and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan have included it as an important development strategy.
Different key stakeholders in Afghanistan including government and private sector of Afghanistan’s namely Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and industries (ACCI), Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI), Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock(MAIL), Afghanistan National Standard Authorities (ANSA) and food stuff importer association by technical support of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), together with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is supporting this effort by aiming to ensure that exported wheat flour and edible oil/ghee from Pakistan to Afghanistan is fortified with micronutrients.
As part of this effort, GAIN, in partnership with the Pakistan Ministry of Health, Regulations and Coordination and other key stakeholders including the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, Ministry of Food Security, Ministry of Commerce, Pakistan Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR), Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) and the Pakistan Flour Millers Association (PFMA) and Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association (PVMA) is hosting a cross border trade meeting.
The meeting aimed to reach a common understanding of the objectives, targets, and activities of the regional food fortification project and make recommendations on how to address technical, regulatory and trade barriers to promote exports of adequately fortified wheat flour and edible oil/ghee to Afghanistan.
The Afghan delegation was comprised of 15 persons from Afghan governmental entities, regulatory authorities, food safety, nutrition and Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI), and they presented the demand of Afghanistan market.
Generally, both side agreed on below issues;
- The problems and challenges of Wheat Flour and Edible Oil/Ghee were identified and possible solutions were suggested
- both countries are agreed on the improvement and enhancement of the awareness rising on food fortification
- Establishment of a committee in both countries to deal with food fortification issues
- Principally both side agreed on fortification for exports and imports