By Isatou Kanyi
The National Alliance for Food Fortification (NAFF) on Thursday 19th November, 2020, converged with partners to discuss and review a sustainable regulatory mechanism for food fortification in The Gambia.
The Alliance, which is an agency that serves as an accountability mechanism for all food fortification interventions in The Gambia, was established on 7th November 2018.
NAFF was also created to ensure an enabling environment for full compliance with food fortification and bio-fortification standards in The Gambia.
During the review exercise held at the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA), the participants came up the proposal for them to meet frequently to discuss important emerging issues pertaining to compliance, promotion, distribution and consumption of fortified foods.
They also want to implement strategies that will permanently eliminate micronutrient in the country.
NAFF, also a multi-sectorial public private sector collaborative team was coordinating the review exercise with NaNA in collaboration with Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Government of The Gambia.
Speaking at the meeting, Modou Cheyassin Phall, NaNA Executive Director who doubles as National Alliance for Food Fortification Coordinator, said food fortification cannot be diverted from bio-fortification, noting that these are the two programs trying to address the issue of micronutrients deficiencies in the country.
Director Phall thanked FAO for bringing the Food Fortification project in the country, as well as thanked partners such as Food Safely and Quality Authority (FSQA) and The Gambia Standard Bureau for regulating foods entering the country.
Phall highlighted the importance of going beyond fortifications regulations and standards. He said implementation is taking place to ensure mandatory regulation of imported wheat flour, cooking oil and salt, which are fortified with iron, folic acid vitamin A. He also said salt is also adequately iodized.
Director Phall described the move as a giant step for the country, saying the project also aims to ensure foods produced in this country are also fortified.
NaNA boss pointed out that it is Government’s responsibility to make regulations and standards.
However, he said the private sector equally have a vital role to play since they equally produce, process, transport, and sell these products.
“And as such, whatever good regulation government may have in the country, if the private/business sector is not included the country will not achieve its aim,” he said.
Phall said this is why public-private partnership engagement is crucial, thus he called on all to put their efforts together for the sustainability of the project. He observed that NAFF without the private sector may not get to where they want it to get.
Dr. Amadou Bah, NaNA Deputy Executive Director, said it is the collective responsibility of all and sundry to encourage NAFF members to fully participate as they all have parts to play. He added that they aim to ensure all institutions are involved in food fortification.