National Institute of Food Technology & Entrepreneurship Management (NIFTEM), an institute of national importance under the aegis of Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Govt. of India, has joined hands with GAIN, an international development sector partner and Hexagon Nutrition, a leading food and nutraceutical company to set up a Centre of Excellence for Food Fortification at NIFTEM.
This is a first-of-its-kind partnership wherein a development sector agency, a nutraceutical manufacturer and an Institute of National importance have spearheaded a food fortification drive aimed at eradicating malnutrition which has continued as a major challenge for the country.
“Despite substantial strides in food grain production, about 26% of India’s population is considered food-insecure, and almost 50% of the population suffers from deficiencies of one or more micronutrients, that is, of vitamins and minerals. The Centre of Excellence will help build healthier and more productive societies, by making available adequately and appropriately fortified staples, to all”, states a joint statement issued by NIFTEM, GAIN and Hexagon Nutrition.
The unique partnership brings together the skills, resources, and co-investments of the partners to build the capacity of food processing industries to initiate, scale-up, and sustain the fortification of staples with essential micronutrients.
Further to benefit from the collective wisdom and experience of various stakeholders, NIFTEM has set up a Joint Technical Advisory Committee (JTAC) to establish the Centre of Excellence for Food Fortification. J-TAC includes representatives from FSSAI, Govt. of India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Academia, Development sector, UN agencies, etc.
At the first meeting of the JTAC held recently, Arun Om Lal, senior vice president, Hexagon Nutrition, informed the JTAC of its commitment to augment technical infrastructure capacity for fortification by providing appropriate financial support demonstration units and technical training to the NIFTEM staff, as its collaborators.
Deepti Gulati from GAIN shared that GAIN would help build a cadre of master trainers at NIFTEM and support designing the curriculum for structured training courses, sharing training modules and training materials to ensure high-quality training.
J S Rana, registrar, NIFTEM, added that NIFTEM would augment the Centre of Excellence to offer customized courses for faculty and students of various food and technology institutes, professionals from food processing industries, and officials from State regulatory such as the FDA.
JTAC unanimously appreciated and endorsed the setting-up of the Centre of Excellence for providing hands-on training to all the stakeholders on the fortification of milk, wheat flour, and edible oil. Dr. Pradeep Saxena, representing the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Ms. Anita Makhijani, representing the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), recommended enhancing the scope of the Centre of Excellence to include training of industry on fortification of rice and double fortified salt. This suggestion was supported by Dr. R Sankar, Program Director - Nutrition, TATA Trusts, Vivek Arora, principal lead FFRC, FSSAI, Rohini Saran, PATH, and Sakshi Jain NI.
Considering that the quality of premixes used for fortification is most critical, Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor of NIFTEM, Dr Chindi Vasudevappa, also announced that NIFTEM would also undertake “Accreditation of premix suppliers”, so that staples are appropriately fortified, using quality-assured premixes, in line with FSSAI standards and guidelines. He added that Food Fortification is an “Unfinished agenda,” but this NIFTEM, GAIN, and Hexagon-Nutrition partnerships will provide the much-needed momentum to make Universal Food Fortification a reality through CEFF; the unique learning and skill-building platform.
Photo attribution - Mid Day Meal Program- CSR Projects India (csrbox.org)