By STAFF WRITER MARCH 20, 2015
One of the largest flour mills in Ethiopia, ASTCO Food Complex, launched the first ever fortified wheat flour at a ceremony held in Addis Ababa on March 17, 2015.
ASTCO will begin fortifying wheat flour with important vitamins and minerals that children need to develop, according to the press release by Partners in Food Solutions (PFS), the US-based nonprofit that helped ATSCO develop the necessary technology and processes needed to fortify flour.
“The path to true food security in Africa isn’t simply more food aid,” said Jeff Dykstra, co-founder and CEO of PFS. “The only sustainable way to end hunger is to strengthen the food supply chain. That’s why we’re focused on working with small and growing food processors.”
The project is undertaken by the African Alliance for Improved Food Processing, a public-private partnership between the U.S. International Agency for Development (USAID), Partners in Food Solutions, TechnoServe, and ASTCO.
Partners in Food Solutions, in cooperation with TechnoServe and USAID, connected the food processor with employees from large multinational food companies such as General Mills, Cargill, DSM and Bühler. “Volunteer experts shared business and technical expertise with their Ethiopian counterparts through email, Skype, a proprietary web platform and occasional visits,” according to PFS.
“This is an extremely significant development that addresses nutrition challenges in Ethiopia, where undernutrition accounts for 45 percent of all child deaths,” said Peter Vrooman, the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to Ethiopia, during the launching ceremony.
The U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission noted that this is part of his government’s support to Ethiopia’s 2013-2015 Multi-sector National Nutrition program that was launched in June 2013 by the state ministers of health, and seven other ministries along with First Lady Roman Tesfaye.
“Through the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future Initiative, USAID has played a strong role in supporting the government’s National Nutrition Program, Agricultural Growth Program, and Productive Safety Net Program,” said Vrooman. “The primary goals of Feed the Future are, number one, reduce poverty by 30 percent for 16.8 million people by 2017, and number two, reduce stunting for 2.2 million children under the age of five from 50.6 to 40.5 percent. The achievable result is a sustainable reduction in poverty and hunger.”
Chronic food insecurity and malnutrition are grave problems in Ethiopia, where two out of every five children suffer from stunting, which means a lack of critical nutrients has made them small for their age. Although the country’s economy is based largely on agriculture, millions of people require humanitarian assistance to survive. The availability of nutritious fortified wheat, a dietary staple in Ethiopia, is one step toward expanding access to nutritious food and reducing hunger, the press release indicates.