• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

TechnoServe trains edible oil processors on Micronutrient Fortification Index

IMG-20210201-WA0000

To drive micronutrient fortification compliance and ensure that the industry self-regulate, TechnoServe has trained processors in the edible oil subsector on Micronutrient Fortification Index (MFI).

The MFI is an innovative mechanism developed by TechnoServe to support the food industry in self-regulating, thus improving fortification compliance.

The four-hour training workshop brought together SMEs in the edible oil subsector together to discuss the MFI and how to use it as advocacy to drive large-scale food fortification with essential micro-nutrients in the country.

Ike Ilegbune, lead consultant –MFI, says the index helps in derisking companies’ exposure to failures in maintaining both regulatory and best-practice standards in fortification compliance as well as overall quality management, adding that it helps businesses integrate effectiveness from strategic governance, to production and consumer satisfaction.

He said the index is a tool by the industry with three parts which are; the self-assessment tools (60percent), industry intelligence (20percent), and periodic independent testing (20percent).

Ilegbune described the self-assessment approach as a proactive measure to increase food fortification, saying that industry intelligence is an internal process of testing.

He added that periodic independent product testing uses established protocols to select products and test for product compliance with fortification standards.

He listed five components of the MFI which are; governance, personnel, and production as the internal components while procurement and partnerships and public engagement as external components.

According to him, the governance component of the MFI is the silver thread between the top of the organisations and the people at the bottom.

He advised the edible oil SMEs operators to ensure that they recruit the best employees equipped with adequate training when discussing the personnel component.

On the production component, he says the SMEs must ensure that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) must be turned into rules.

Ilegbune added that SMEs should seek partnerships and public engagements on the external components of the MFI.

Speaking on key milestones of the MFI, he gave case studies using the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and the Corporate Governance Rating System.

He noted that the edible oil sector is the most fragmented and that an SME focused self-assessment tool will help drive fortification compliance.

He stated that the MFI provides a value proposition for processors, a playing field for all players, public accountability, and ensures compliance risk mitigation.

Also speaking, Oludare Ogungbala, technical manager – quality, food safety, research and development, PZ Wilmar whose company was used in the piloting phase of the MFI tool, said that the index is designed by the industry for the industry.

“Since we partook in the piloting stage, there is more awareness in the area of fortification and more reporting of it in our organisation,” Ogungbala said.

“Internally, everybody now has a border view of the MFI in our organisation,” he added.

In her welcome speech, Ayodele Tella, project manager, SAPFF said that in 2013, a national fortification survey reported sub-optimal compliance across the edible oil, wheat flour, and sugar micronutrient fortification vehicles.

Tella stated that the compliance rate was 20:30:10 for edible oil, flour, and sugar respectively, noting that there are challenges that needed to be addressed.

She stressed that a different approach was required to drive increased large-scale fortification.

“The strategy for support had to be re-assessed and the responsibility had to be redefined and repositioned,” she said.

She stated that with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, TechnoServe initiated a market based and Industry led programme – SAPFF to drive change in fortification compliance.

“Our theory for change, we believe if the capacity of the ability of processors is enhanced and the commitment to fortification is elevated within a favourable enabling environment, then we can attain adequate compliance,” she said.

Speaking on what the non-profit organisation has done to achieve the goals; she stated that TechnoServe has exchanged data such as analytical results and interpretations that informed modifications of production protocols, shared knowledge and lessons in sector-wide training, and SWT that reinforced residual information while adding layers on global best practices.

In a presentation on advocacy as a national solution to ignite food fortification objectives, Onyebuchi Ajufo, associate manager, and Christine Chege, consultant both of Africa Practice, took the SMEs through steps in advocacy.

According to them, there are some steps in advocacy which are; identifying the issues, identify the main targets, the key message, strategy through coalition building, capacity, and resources needed.

They gave case studies on their success in driving collaborations in the oil industry to carry out advocacy on oil theft and how the telecommunication industry through advocacy could make some of their assets national infrastructure to protect them from vandalization.

Among the five major challenges identified by a Technoserve sponsored research in the edible oil sector, participating SMEs chose influx of cheaper oil as their main problem when ranking them in other of importance

This was followed by weak regulation of imports, limited access to raw materials, high cost of production and premix, low purchasing power, and low production capacity to implement fortification.