The government of Haiti recently announced a program to fortify wheat flour with iron and folic acid, following a recommendation by UC Davis researchers who calculated that adding these nutrients to wheat flour during milling would prevent infant deaths and improve the health especially of women and children.
The new Haitian program, known by its French acronym RANFOSE, is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In addition to adding folic acid and iron to wheat flour, it will fortify vegetable oils with Vitamin A and salt with iodine. RANFOSE will increase the availability of high-quality, fortified staple foods across the country and expand the local production and importation of fortified foods, according to a US Embassy news release.
The UC Davis proposal was drawn up by a team led by economist Stephen Vosti and nutritionist Reina Engle-Stone. It was submitted as part of Haiti Priorise, which evaluated proposals to help develop Haiti and lift its people out of poverty. Food fortification ultimately ranked second among 85 submissions, second only to a revamp of the island nation’s electrical grid.
“Every gourde (Haitian currency) invested smartly in wheat flour fortification will generate 24 gourdes of social and economic benefit for Haiti, preventing 150 newborn deaths each year, while avoiding a quarter of a million cases of anemia,” said Bjorn Lomborg, President of the Copenhagen Consensus and organizer of Haïti Priorise. “The new project RANFOSE is rightly focusing on tackling one of the best opportunities for Haiti, and it can effectively help save lives and lead to a more prosperous future for Haiti and its youth.”
UC Davis also submitted a proposal to Haiti Priorise to improve rice production in the country.