Working with Afghanistan government to produce high-quality iodized salt locally

MI staff visiting salt processors in Afghanistan.

MI staff visiting salt processors in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has one of the highest iodine deficiency rates in the world but improved processing capacity in the country could help eliminate the country’s iodine deficiency disorders quickly.

Although Afghanistan has enough capacity to produce raw salt for its needs, local processors lack the capacity to remove impurities that result from the harvesting process.

Due to a ban on imported rock salt, Afghan salt processors were forced to use salt from within the country and as a result the salt they produced was discoloured and contained impurities.

Consumers were not pleased with the quality of the locally produced salt and opted instead to purchase salt smuggled in from neighbouring countries. Unfortunately, much of the smuggled in salt was not iodized, which has put Afghans at an even higher risk for iodine deficiency disorders.

In order to resolve this issue, MI has been working with the Afghanistan government to increase its capacity to produce high-quality salt.

This plan includes the development of refineries in three of the salt processing areas to centralize the processing of salt. These centralized refineries would be equipped with the capacity to remove discoloration and impurities that result from the harvesting process and add iodine to the salt.

Local processors could then buy the processed salt in bulk and repackage and sell to consumers, providing a high-quality iodized salt product to Afghan consumers. Because of the security situation in the country, the plan is still awaiting a final decision and funding.

Once established, these refineries could improve salt quality and would lead to effective iodization of all the salt in the country and a dramatic reduction in iodine deficiency rates.