By Yerima Kini Nsom
The Minister of Commerce, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, has called on the cereal-producing company, Olam, to invest in the production, processing and distribution of fortified rice in Cameroon. He made the call on September 24, while chairing the presentation ceremony of Olam’s new product: fortified Bijou rice.
While hailing the company for such an initiative, the Minister said it will go a long way to improve the living conditions of the population by curbing malnutrition, which he said, is in line with government’s policy.
“This is a healthy operation for the supply of basic necessities and mass consumption products to the markets. We hope that this fortified rice will invade our markets and that there will be no change in price compared to conventional rice.
I just hope that this fortified rice will invade all the regions, even the farthest of the villages, where malnutrition is sometimes prevalent. I would like to see no increase in prices, the same price as that of conventional rice should be maintained. I heard that you produce palm oil next door, what is missing here? Come and produce here. This is the meaning of the import-substitution policy: produce what you consume, consume what you produce. Add to production, fortification to have fortified Yagoua rice, fortified Ndop rice etc,” the Minister remarked.
Available in several sizes: 1.5 kg, 5 kg, and 25 kg, “this first and only fortified rice in Cameroon” is rich in vitamins: iron, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin B9, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, and is a solution to micronutrient deficiencies in the body. According to the promoters, all micronutrient deficiencies have an impact on mental and physical health, mainly in mental disorders, poor health, low productivity and even death.
Micronutrients, OLAM producers add, “keep you active, healthy and boost your immunity. They are most valuable for pregnant women and growing children. Added micronutrients account for more than 15 percent of the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) in a single potion for an adult.”
For his part, the World Food Programme, WFP, representative in Cameroon, Jose Vivero used the ceremony to highlight their contribution to the government’s efforts: “We are working with governments in fifteen countries to develop the fortification system, 500 million children in schools have benefited from it”. He, however, advised persons suffering from diarrhoea or parasitic diseases against consuming fortified rice.
In collaboration with the secretariat of the inter-ministerial committee for the fight against malnutrition, WFP is helping vulnerable populations get a healthy diet by eating rice.
He cited the creation of an inter-ministerial committee for food security and a ministerial committee for the fight against malnutrition in the northern and eastern regions, developing and implementing the national food security programme, setting up a network of parliamentarians for the fight against malnutrition, and adopting regulations on the sale of substitutes for breast milk as well as on food fortification as collective efforts towards curbing malnutrition. In 2011, a Fortification Programme was instituted by the government.
Olam’s fortified rice is the company’s contribution to the supply of basic necessities and consumer goods to the market, as well as its token to the fight against the high cost of living.