A study by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) reveals that almost half of the maize millers in Kenya do not add important minerals and vitamins to their flour products.
The process which is common as flour fortification is a legal requirement in Kenya. Kenya fortifies salt, maize, and wheat flour, as well as fats and oils.
The study shows that while all large scale millers are found to be fortifying flour, only 46 percent of medium scale millers fortify their flour.
Small scale farmers were found to be at their worst in enriching the flour through the fortification process. Small scale farmers who fortified their flour were only 24 percent.
Out of all the packaged maize flour consumed in most urban areas, 70 percent is produced by large scale millers.
In rural areas, most of the maize flour sold is unpackaged and unfortified raising a health concern as the majority of Kenyans are still consuming flour without the essential micronutrients.
Flour that has not been fortified exposes consumers to nutritional illnesses that include deficiencies.
The study attributed to lack of fortification of flour among small and medium scale millers has been attributed to lack of machinery, skills and unaffordable premixes.
The United Grain Millers Association, Vice Chairman, Kennedy Nyaga called for the government to intervene to ensure millers comply with the set regulations.
“Some of our members spend one hundred thousand shillings monthly to buy premix alone. Then there are costs associated with sample analysis,” Nyaga informed.
The study was a first since the establishment of the Kenya National Food Fortification Reference Laboratory located at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
Construction of the Kenya National Food Fortification Reference Laboratory was supported by the European Union under the auspices of the “Strengthening the Kenya National Food Fortification Program” with the purpose of easing fortification challenge for small and medium scale millers.