Improving African foods while farmers benefit

Submitted by admin on Tue, 07/31/2018 - 10:24
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A visit to the Rwanda Development Board allowed participants of the Joint African Union Commission - NEPAD Agency - Regional Economic Communities (AUC-NPCA-RECs) Planning and Coordination Retreat for the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), to have an overview of the reforms that the Government of Rwanda has been introducing over the past decade to make the country business friendly.

On behalf of the African Union, Augustin Wambo Yamdjeu, NEPAD Agency’s Head of CAADP introduced the participants to the RDB executive and congratulated the institution for its work in supporting agribusiness development, agriculture-led industrialisation and economic transformation.

Rwanda has shown that it is possible for Africa to improve the nutrition of the food its population consumes, while at the same time farmers that grow that food also benefit. This was the lesson that was shared during a visit to Africa Improved Foods Rwanda Limited in Kigali, also on the side-lines of the CAADP Retreat.

The Joint AUC-NPCA-RECs Planning and Coordination meeting was convened to review the 2017-2021 African Union Malabo Business Plan and its implementation arrangements, as well as to agree on joint priorities for 2018

In demonstrating an effective public–private partnership (PPP) with the Rwandan government, Africa Improved Foods Limited’s objective is to address malnutrition and stunting in the country and the East African region. This is achieved through manufacturing high-quality nutritious complementary foods from locally sourced produce supplied by smallholder famers.

This partnership was inspired by evidence that the first 1,000 days, from conception to a child's second birthday. Older infants above six months and young children should receive nutritionally adequate and high quality complementary foods, while continuing to be breastfeed at least until a child is two years of age or more.1

The CAADP planning meeting participants learned that although Africa Improved Foods Limited is a commercial business, it also strives to have maximum social, economic and environmental impact in the communities it operates. To this end, the company provides high-quality nutrition solutions for all groups in the income distribution pyramid which will at national level make a major contribution in reducing the current nationwide stunting rates.

Moreover, the company works closely with approximately

9000 small holder farmers and has created 230 new direct jobs at its current plant only after one year in operation. It also counters post-harvest loss by receiving grains from farmers as soon as they are harvested, after which the final drying processes of the grains takes place at the plant to prevent aflatoxin and other contamination.

“We produce the Nootri range of products, a set of porridge flours for complementing the dietary needs of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, as well as older infants above six months. The products are enriched with relevant vitamins and minerals required for the healthy growth of children. In addition, the products are produced from locally grown mixed grains of soy, maize and sorghum,” Prosper Ndayiragije, the company’s Country Manager explained.

Mark Fynn, AUC’s Agribusiness Advisor remarked that a lot of what was shared during the visit resonates with the work within the CAADP framework, since CAADP also addresses agro-processing, job creation, nutrition, value addition and access to markets.