National Institute of Food Technology & Entrepreneurship Management (NIFTEM), an institute of national importance under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries 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 come together to spearhead 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, i.e. 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 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 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) for the establishment of 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, among others.
At the first meeting of the JTAC held recently, Arun Om Lal, Sr Vice President, Hexagon Nutrition informed the JTAC of its commitment to augment infrastructure technical capacity for fortification, by providing appropriate financial support to set up demonstration units and technical training to the NIFTEM staff, as its collaborators.
Deepti Gulati from GAIN said that GAIN would help build a cadre of master trainers at NIFTEM and provide support to design the curriculum for structured training courses, share training modules, and training materials to ensure high-quality training.
Dr J S Rana, Registrar, NIFTEM, added that the institute would augment the Centre of Excellence to offer customised courses for, faculty and students of various food & technology institutes, professionals from food processing industries as well as officials from State regulatory such as the FDA.
Considering that the quality of premixes used for fortification is most critical, the Vice-Chancellor of NIFTEM, Dr Chindi Vasudevappa, also announced that NIFTEM will 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 presently, 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.