Smarter Futures is a project which provides technical support and training for flour millers, government food control staff, and other stakeholders in Africa with regard to fortification of wheat and maize flour with vitamins and minerals. Adding vitamins and minerals to flour is economically viable and cost effective. Improving the nutritional value of people’s diets through fortification of flour will improve people’s health and well-being and lead to smarter futures.
The partners involved are: the Food Fortification Initiative, AkzoNobel, Helen Keller International, and the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (IF), with the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. We all work toward preventing problems caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies, such as neural tube birth defects, impaired learning capacity and decreased productivity. Flour fortification is one strategy for addressing such deficiencies because it delivers essential nutrients through staple foods. It does not require consumers to change their eating or buying habits.
The key groups to benefit are women of childbearing age, adolescents (especially girls) and young children. Additional nutrients, especially iron and folic acid, make these group in particular smarter, stronger, and healthier. The project was initiated by:
- The Food Fortification Initiative (FFI, formerly the Flour Fortification Initiative), the umbrella partner. Its mission is to advocate for and support fortification of industrially milled cereal grains by collaborating with multi-sector partners. Currently 81 countries require fortification of at least wheat flour, maize flour, and/or rice.
- Helen Keller International (HKI), recognized worldwide as an NGO that combats the causes and consequences of blindness and malnutrition by establishing programs based on evidence and research in vision, health and nutrition. HKI contributes financially and “in-kind” to the Smarter Futures project.
- The International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (IF), is driven by its mission to decrease the birth prevalence of spina bifida and hydrocephalus through primary prevention measures and to improve the quality of life for those living with these disabilities.
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, a member of Smarter Futures and supporting the Partnership through a co-financing agreement.
- AkzoNobel, a world leader in the production of food grade sodium ironEDTA, the iron compound recommended as the most bioavailable option for whole wheat flours. AkzoNobel participates in Smarter Futures through in cash and in kind contributions, which include a new rapid test for ironEDTA in flour.