Enriching Flour, Enriching Lives: The Flour Fortification Initiative

7. Locating the Need: is Technical Fortification Support Needed?
Countries and regions of the world where the flour extraction rates have traditionally been high, ranging anywhere from 88% to 95%, are gradually shifting towards the production of refined flour. As flour fortification is most effective in highly refined flour (Ranum and Wesley, 2003), there is a need for flour fortification programmes in these situations. This need has evolved gradually and remains largely unaddressed. The vast majority of countries do not currently fortify flour, and the countries that do not fortify differ greatly in terms of their requirements, resources, economic condition and government policies. The diversity among these countries therefore demands a unique approach to each solution on a case-by-case basis. In general, though, these countries can be divided into three groups according to some common factors as described below:
• Highly industrialized countries which believe that their population is getting the necessary nutrients from other sources naturally and/or through vitamin/mineral supplements and therefore do not add anything to their flour.
• Countries that have the resources – technical as well as financial – for implementing fortification programmes but have not done so since they were not required to or were not aware of the benefits of fortification.
• Countries located primarily in less economically developed regions of the world, with limited resources and a relatively great need for fortification.

All three categories require very different approaches in order to be persuaded to consider implementation of the fortification programme. It is crucial for technical information to be available and delivered to representatives of the grain processing industries in the countries of category 2 in general and category 3 in particular. This will help raise awareness and dispel any myths or fears about the technology of flour fortification.

In addition to technical and financial support, advocacy programmes carried out by politicians and senior development officers at appropriate political and administrative levels are important for all three categories. National millers have also been an important influence in persuading countries to start national fortification (Darnton-Hill, 1999).

Sometimes it is very difficult for technical experts in those countries where flour fortification is practised, such as in North America, to fully appreciate the technical challenges associated with fortification. So when presenting the information, nothing should be taken for granted.

8. Reason for Fortification of Flour
When we talk about cereal crop based fortification, wheat flour and corn flour are natural mediums of delivery for the following reasons:
• Flour is consumed by a large segment of the world's population in large quantities.
• It is consumed in a wide range of popular forms such as bread, bagels, tortilla, cookies, noodles, steam bread, pasta, and macaroni.
• Flour is relatively inexpensive.
• Micronutrient premix can be added to form a homogenous product with flour because of flour's fine particle size. This would not be possible with a more granular food.
• Vitamins and minerals can be added to flour in the form of a premix.

In this way the general population can easily and inexpensively receive their critical vitamins and minerals by eating their normal food, be it pasta or bread or other flour-based products.

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