COTE D’IVOIRE – DSM Human Health and Nutrition has emphasized on the need for fortification as a solution to help overcome the challenge of malnutrition especially among children.

Speaking in a panel at the Fourth Africa Day of School Feeding in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, the company strongly recommended innovative fortification solutions as safe and cost-effective tools to combat the challenge of malnutrition.

Those participating in the panel discussion included Yannick Foing, Global Lead, Partner Engagement for Nutrition Improvement, DSM, Arnold Kawuba, Partner Engagement and Management for Nutrition Improvement, DSM, and Abdoulalaye Lo, Account Manager.

According to the company, governments looking to alleviate micronutrient deficiencies in school children can utilize fortification to enhance nutritional value of food products.

Such kind of efforts enhanced with support from well-established and trusted private sector organizations like DSM which can provide the innovation and technical expertise needed to develop and deliver high quality and effective fortification programs for school children.

According to DSM, the significance of providing proper nourishment to children via nutrient-dense foods, i.e. foods high in vitamins and minerals, is becoming increasingly recognized.

This is opposed to traditional methods, where school feeding programs in Africa have focused on children consuming enough calories and not going to school hungry.

Improving nutrition through fortified rice and nutrient supplements

DSM has identified rice as an ideal vehicle for fortification as it has the potential to reach and help vulnerable populations in the region.

Rice products can be fortified with vitamins and minerals through hot extrusion fortification technology, which is the most robust method to do add nutrients.

The technology is a simple two step method which begins with rice grains being broken, ground into rice flour and mixed with water and the required nutrients to produce a rice dough.

The fortified dough is then passed through an extruder to produce the fortified kernels which are blended with standard rice.

As an alternative to rice fortification, DSM says powdered vitamins and minerals, also known as micronutrient powders (MNPs) are also scientifically proven to provide the nutrients that children need to ensure they reach their maximum potential.

The micronutrients are easy to integrate into meals, without affecting the taste and appearance of food, or eating habits.

Incidences of ‘hidden hunger’, a phenomenon where an individual has a chronic lack of essential micronutrients are on the rise across the world, and this is attributed to shortages in adequate vitamin and mineral intake.

According to DSM, in Africa, access to affordable, nutritious foods is often limited and 36% of children under the age of five are thought to suffer from chronic undernourishment.

Stunting among children as a result of poor nutrition is estimated to affect more than 60 million children on the continent, and together with malnutrition have long-lasting implications on educational performance, health and wellbeing.