Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) officials on Saturday said Kazakhstan business owners have agreed to ensure at least 50 percent of its wheat flour, salt and oil exports to Afghanistan will be fortified.
The ACCI welcomed this move and said it would mean the foodstuff would have added vitamins and minerals – which will help combat various health problems among Afghans.
They said they had made the same request in the past to Pakistan, but their request had been ignored.
“Kazakhstan has agreed to sell us at least 50 percent fortified flour. We had also requested the same from Pakistan, but they never accepted it,” Khan Jan Alokozay, deputy head of ACCI said.
A number of food importers meanwhile welcomed the move and said using fortified foods will decrease health issues among Afghans.
“If fortified foods are imported into the country, it will be to the benefit of our people,” said Abdulwahid, a flour importer.
“Currently, a lot of Kazakhstan food has replaced that of Pakistan at markets. We will import more Kazakhstan products if its quality is better,” said Zahir, a food seller.
According to statistics, Afghanistan needs six million tons of flour a year, and 50 percent of this is imported.
Owners of flour processing plants said however that instead of importing flour, government should invest in the industry and fortify its own flour.
Food fortification is the addition of key vitamin and minerals, such as iron, folic acid, iodine, vitamin A, and zinc, to staple foods to improve their nutritional content and address a nutritional gap in a population.
A safe and effective means of improving public health that has been used around the world since the 1920s, it provides a nutritional benefit without requiring consumers to change eating habits or purchase patterns. In the developing world, commonly fortified foods include staple products such as salt, maize flour, wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oil, and rice.