Going Against the Grain of Optimism: Flour Fortification in Pakistan
Food fortification is a popular strategy for addressing ‘hidden hunger’, and staple foods are seen as promising, if unproven, vehicles for the delivery of essential micronutrients to poor people in developing countries. This article examines wheat flour fortification with iron in Pakistan as a case of technocratic optimism in the face of institutional constraints. An evaluative framework based on the analysis of entire value chains can provide a reality check on technocratic optimism. We find that poor people based their preferences for different types of flour on price as well as perceptions of nutritional value. Many of these flour types are not covered by fortification programmes. Fortification interventions, meanwhile, have attempted to leverage public–private partnerships in a segment of the wheat flour value chain which is beset with regulatory weakness. This article illustrates why technical interventions should support rather than ignore a broader agenda of reforms in food policy.