Mr Stuart King Team Leader Food Fortification Programme thanked the Honourable Minister Health and Population Welfare, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho for all her and her team’s support. The Hon. Minister asked for an update on progress of the Sindh Food Fortification Bill, 2019 and Dr Abid provided an update. The team requested to the Honourable Dr Azra to extend help to push forward the Bill to the Sindh Assembly and obtain earlier approval and the Minister kindly initiated several calls to the Secretary and Minister of Law.
Dr Azra Fazal also discussed the sustainability of the food fortification interventions of the FFP. On follow on testing of fortified samples from edible oil and wheat flour mills Reference was made to the Government’s agreement with the state of the art testing laboratory being established by the Food Department of the Karachi University, and recommended to on-board the Karachi University and the Sindh Department of Food to explore synergies for the long-term testing of fortified wheat flour and edible oil once FFP exits. The Minister agreed to ask the Secretary Food to convene a meeting with the Karachi University and FFP and asked if FFP could on this basis of using Karachi University specialist staffing and the agreement to fund tests with the Government could help provide the required specialist equipment and initial training. The Minister mentioned this was the Government’s own preferred model of ensuring greater value for money as the Food Department of Karachi University has the required expert staffing and infrastructure whilst they would struggle to hire staff and in running parallel systems the duplication would be less cost effective. She suggested that FFP may sign a short term MoU with the Karachi University relating to the equipment and initial support.
Dr Azra Fazal said that she would speak with the Department of Food and Food Authority to actively support FFP for the sustainability of wheat flour and edible oil fortification interventions, specifically the monitoring, enforcement and testing.
Mr Stuart King asked if the Government in the interests of sustaining fortification could adjust the selling price for fortified atta ahead of the planned introduction of the legislation but the Hon Minister said that they would not intervene into the free market but said that the Government would look to include in the rules supporting the Fortification Act that they would link wheat flour fortification with the subsidy on wheat, given to the wheat flour mills. It was agreed that this was an important way of ensuring a more sustainable approach for the continuity of the wheat flour fortification ahead of the legislation being enacted. Dr Azra Fazal directed to Mr Faheem Chachar to put a clause in the Sindh Food Fortification Bill, 2019 and the rules and regulations – linking the wheat flour fortification with the subsidy on wheat. Mr Faheem Chachar was also asked to notify the Food Department that they should issue a notification regarding linking the fortification with the subsidy on wheat.
Mr Stuart King discussed the price increase after fortification of wheat flour and requested minister health to advise on the strategy. Dr Azra Fazal said that wheat flour manufacturers must pass on additional fortification cost to the consumers. She said that this was the envisaged approach in the Sindh Food Fortification Bill, 2019 and rules and regulations. The linking of fortification to wheat flour quotas subsidized by the Government would also focus on less advantaged community members.
The issue of substandard, unrefined and unpacked loose oil and ghee being sold in the open market was also discussed. Dr Azra Fazal said that a clause must be added in Sindh Food Fortification Bill, 2019 and rules and regulations to prevent. She added that a clause also needs to be added in Sindh Food Fortification Bill, 2019 and rules and regulations that all restaurants and hotels should not purchase the substandard, unrefined and unpacked loose oil and ghee, a penalty will be imposed if the restaurants and hotels found guilty of buying the substandard, unrefined and unpacked loose oil and ghee.