Bio fortification technical working group to help fix malnutrition

By Susan Mercy Ayebare

Government has set up a Bio fortification technical working group that will work on improving nutrients in foods to curb malnutrition.

State minister for agriculture, Christopher Kibazanga says this group will be spearheaded by Harvest plus with experts from agriculture, health, education, the Uganda national farmers’ federation and National Agriculture resources organization.

The National Bio-Fortification Technical Working Group (NBTWG) will be unveiled on Thursday at the ongoing source of the Nile agricultural expo 2019 in the eastern town of Jinja.

While addressing the media in Kampala, Kibanzanga noted that the National Bio-Fortification Technical Working Group will help Ugandans to fight malnutrition among mothers and children in the country. He said that malnutrition is expensive to treat and therefore it should be prevented before it comes. “The loss caused by iron deficiency anemia in adults alone is us$34 million worthy of productivity.”Kibazanga adds.

“Women with iodine deficient disorders give birth to children with reduced ability to learn, lower school performance, higher rates of school-age repetition and poor speech and hearing ability. What is especially tragic is that the effects of iodine deficiency are permanent." says Kibanzanga.

The principle research officer of NARO Ssemakula Gorette listed sweet potatoes, cassava, bananas, maize as some of bio- fortified foods rich in vitamin A. Others are beans and pearl millet which are high in zinc and iron. These foods she says are good for both pregnant mothers and children.

She noted that the above nutrients can prevent anemia, malnutrition, mental impairment, brain damage, lowered hearing ability, poor birth outcomes, physical disabilities and death.

According to Ssemakula such fortified foods lead to increased productivity, brain development and health pregnancy especially when one fully feeds on beans because they contain iron.