In this article, we will discuss Advantages of Food Fortification. So, let’s get started.
Advantages of Food Fortification
- Increase in Nutritional Value: The biofortified crops have 1.5 to 3 times higher levels of protein, vitamins, minerals and amino acids compared to the traditional varieties.
- Safer Method of Fortification: It is worth noting that these varieties are not genetically modified — they have been developed through conventional crop breeding techniques by the scientists.
- Moreover, the addition of micronutrients to food does not pose a health risk to people. The quantity added is so small and so well regulated as per prescribed standards that likelihood of an overdose of nutrients is unlikely.
- Nutritional Security at Large: Since the nutrients are added to staple foods that are widely consumed, this is an excellent method to improve the health of a large section of the population, all at once.
- Does Not Require Behaviour Change: It does not require any changes in food habits and patterns of people. It is a socio-culturally acceptable way to deliver nutrients to people.
- It does not alter the characteristics of the food—the taste, the feel, the look.
- Quick Results: It can be implemented quickly as well as show results in improvement of health in a relatively short period of time.
- Cost Effective: This method is cost-effective especially if advantage is taken of the existing technology and delivery platforms.
- The Copenhagen Consensus estimates that every 1 Rupee spent on fortification results in 9 Rupees in benefits to the economy.
- It requires an initial investment to purchase both the equipment and the vitamin and mineral premix, but overall costs of fortification are extremely low. Even when all program costs are passed on to consumers, the price increase is approximately 1-2%, less than normal price variation. Thus it has a high benefit-to-cost ratio.
- Currently, 15.3% of the country’s population is undernourished, and India has the highest proportion of “stunted” (30%) and “wasted” children (17.3%) below five years of age, as per the FAO’s recent report, ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2021’.
- These figures indicate that India is at a critical juncture with respect to nutritional security and will not be able to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of eliminating all forms of malnutrition by 2030 in the business-as-usual scenario.
- Factors for Nutritional Insecurity: Access to nutritious food is only one of the determinants of nutrition. Other factors like poor access to safe drinking water and sanitation (especially toilets), low levels of immunisation and education, especially of women, contribute equally to this dismal situation.
- As per the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) website, 21 varieties of biofortified staples including wheat, rice, maize, millets, mustard, groundnut had been developed by 2019-20.
- A research team at the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute in Mohali has also developed biofortified coloured wheat (black, blue, purple) that is rich in zinc and anthocyanins.
- Farmers from Punjab and Haryana have been roped in to multiply the production of this wheat variety. This points towards the beginning of a new journey, from food security to nutritional security