LAHORE - Punjab Minister for Labour and Human Resources Raja Ashfaq Sarwar has said fortification of wheat flour would be expanded to cover all flour mills of Punjab.

Addressing a seminar on “Viability, strengthening of flour milling industry and wheat flour fortification in Punjab” here Wednesday, he said that it was heartening that wheat flour milling industry was showing an overwhelming response to help people of Punjab to take minerals and vitamins necessary to survive and thrive.

Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA) and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) arranged the seminar in collaboration with Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR).

The minister appreciated the efforts of PFMA and GAIN to start production of the fortified wheat flour which was cost effective approach to meet the recommended daily allowance of Iron and folic acid in routine food. He praised the flour mills that have voluntarily taking the initiative to start the wheat flour fortification.

He said that the government has already made fortification of wheat flour mandatory and its enforcement would start from September 2015. He said that the government would devise long term export policy to bring the foreign exchange by exporting surplus wheat.

Chairman PFMA Asim Raza stressed the need of adopting market based approaches for wheat flour fortification which would contribute in addressing the grave situation of malnutrition in the country. He said that PFMA and GAIN were working under an agreement to ensure availability of fortified wheat flour to the masses. This partnership would contribute in addressing iron deficiency anemia in Pakistan. He said that industry should be provided opportunities to perform as per full potential and to new investor in flour milling industry may be discouraged.

Program Manager GAIN Munawar Hussain said that Pakistan was facing high burden of malnutrition and situation has been deteriorated during the last decade. He said that anemia has increased to 62 % in children and 51 % in women. The fortification of wheat flour with iron and folic acid was one of the most cost effective means to reach the marginalized population. He also mentioned that Project has strong support from the government and the other stakeholders. He said that GAIN in collaboration with National Institute of Food Science and Technology Faisalabad would offer training and capacity building for flour milling industry to meet quality assurance and quality control protocols. He appreciated the commitment for industry for this noble cause.