ZIMBABWE – Health minister David Parirenyatwa, millers and industry leaders met this week and resolved to proceed “amicably” with the contentious food fortification exercise.

The millers — through the Tafadzwa Musarara-led Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) — have been pleading for a moratorium after government refused to back down on the imposed July 1 deadline to start food fortification, arguing that they could not afford to import fortification equipment and fortificants.

Parirenyatwa has insisted that the fortification is necessary in addressing malnutrition in the country.

“We had a very very constructive meeting with GMAZ. It was fruitful and we managed to discuss all the issues…we now understand each other,” he told the Daily News, adding that “we are going to proceed amicably from now on”.

He, however, did not disclose details of their agreement.

Government, through Statutory Instrument 120 of 2016, enforced food fortification for cooking oil, maize-meal, wheat flour and sugar, with all of the food stuffs expected to have been fortified starting July 1 this year.

Under the programme, wheat flour would be fortified with Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Iron, Zinc, Vitamin B12, B6, Folic acid, Thiamine and Riboflavin, while maize-meal will have the same nutrients except Vitamin D.

Vitamin A and D would be added to cooking oil, while sugar will be fortified with Vitamin A.

Early this month, millers appealed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to intervene and convince Parirenyatwa to defer the implementation of the food fortification programme.

The millers association was appealing to Mnangagwa in his capacity as the chairman of Cabinet’s Food Security and Nutrition committee and as leader of the Command Agriculture programme.

The millers were proposing that the programme be deferred until there has been establishment of local fortificants producers and proper training of milling laboratory staff.

On the other hand, oil pressers were asking for a 12-month extension, arguing that they were facing foreign currency constraints, fortification equipment procurement problems, non-availability of fortificants locally, and the programme’s effect on cooking oil price, export competitiveness as well as labelling.

July 22, 2017: Daily News