By Awa Macalo
Following data analysis and compilation of the final report, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has recently validated the Rapid Food Consumption Report as a pre-requisite to assessing the potential nutritional impact of food fortification and bio fortification programs,
The survey report’s goal was to provide reliable estimates of average per capita intake of the project’s target food vehicles, which will aid in estimating the “expected coverage” of each target group/food consumed by the population during project implementation.
FAO representative in the Gambia, Moshibudi Rampedi, expressed that the survey intends to gather more information on the regular ingesting of selected food vehicle; fruits and vegetables among children (6-59 months) and women of reproductive (15-49 years) in the country.
She explained that, the survey is part of the Food Fortification project which was implemented by FAO to support national efforts in addressing micronutrient deficiencies and improve dietary diversity.
Some of the significant milestones attained by the Food Fortification Project in the Gambia she said, include the Government earning support to establish the necessary regulatory and legal framework for food fortification.
In line with this, the Food Fortification Regulation 2020, which mandates the fortification of wheat flour, rice, edible fats and oils as well as iodized salt, was developed and launched in June 2021 by Her Excellency, the Vice President of the Republic of the Gambia. The Food Safety and Quality Authority is responsible for the enforcement of the regulations to protect the health of the population.’
It also supports the agenda to transform and make agriculture nutrition sensitive in line with Agenda 2030. ‘A number of crops that include bio-fortified maize, Orange Flesh Sweet Potato, and iron rich cowpea crop varieties were developed and successfully piloted through support to household beneficiaries in CRR-N, CRR-S, and NBR. This was made possible through collaboration with the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) and the Department of Agriculture. Subsequently, five varieties of Orange Flesh Sweet Potato and one Pro-Vitamin A maize variety, all of which are rich in vitamin A, have been registered in the National Seed Catalogue and will be certified by the National Seed Secretariat,” she explained.
Dr. Amat Bah, the executive director of the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) said the government accepted food fortification and bio fortification as a way of confirming that Gambians get clear access consume foods rich in micronutrients.
He expressed that the country is facing a double burden of malnutrition where undernutrition including micro nutrition and over-nutrition co-exist.
“NaNA and partners have instituted a series of interventions to the high level of malnutrition. Some of the interventions are geared towards the treatment and prevention of micronutrient malnutrition.”