BAGUIO CITY (Jan. 19) — The prevalence of iron-deficiency anemia among women of reproductive age and children alarmed the country’s health and local government officials that prompted national agencies to enforce the Fortification Law of 2000, an official of the National Nutrition Council disclosed in a media forum here.
Dr. Micaela Defiesta, regional director of the National Nutrition Council in Cordillera said a Department of Interior and Log\cal Government (DILG) is coming out with a memorandum for concerned government line agencies to monitor the availability of fortified foods in the local market.
The memorandum, Defiesta said, will encourage people to eat vegetables or buy iron-fortified produce to get rid of iron-deficiency anemia. She said agricultural products such as rice, sugar, oil and salt should be fortified with micro-nutrients such as iron, iodine, vitamins and minerals.
“Green leafy vegetables usually contain these micro-nutrients,” Defiesta said. She is alarmed that nationwide, only 59% eat vegetables and that only 31% have fruits in their daily food intake. She disclosed that because people tend to eat in fast food joints, the government food fortification efforts would include fast foods.
While Defiesta advocates that government ensure good health through proper nutrition, she said government could not control the presence of synthetic food or inorganic produce. The advocacy for organic products is even worsened by higher prices, she said.
Organic vegetables take time to produce that the prices tend to be higher than the inorganically-produced vegetables, according to Victor Inso, an organic farmer. He said it takes 35 to 45 days to grow an organic lettuce while those grown with synthetic fertilizers takes only about 25 days. He encouraged people to tend backyard vegetables for more people to have access to organic products, thus lowering its prices in the market. # Lyn V. Ramo for NORDIS