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Rwanda, African improved foods in joint venture to fight malnutrition

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agriculture

By Staff Writer

RWANDA –Rwanda government has entered into a joint venture with Africa Improved Foods Ltd (AIF),a  consortium of Royal DSM, FMO, DIAF and IFC, to improve the nutritional status of its population and help address malnutrition by manufacturing enhanced nutritional foods for vulnerable groups including the rural poor in Rwanda and the East Africa region.

By 2017, the joint venture company aims to reach more than 1 million people annually with effective nutrition interventions.

The joint venture will invest in a factory to be built in Kigali, Rwanda next year, to produce fortified foods, creating 230 direct jobs while offering 9,000 local farmers a stable, sustainable income for a proportion of their harvest.

AIF is a partnership that has been created by Royal DSM (the global Life Sciences and Materials Sciences Company), FMO (the Dutch development bank), the DFID Impact Acceleration Facility that is managed by CDC Group plc (the UK government’s Development Finance Institution) and the International Finance Corporation (the investment arm of The World Bank).

Each partner is funding a minority equity stake in AIF to manufacture affordable, nutritious and high-quality foods to improve the nutritional status of people in Rwanda and the region.

Major initial customers of the joint venture company include the UN World Food Program; facilitating an efficient response to food emergencies in East Africa, and the government of Rwanda that is committed to ensuring that the Rwandan population has access to nutritional foods. The government of Rwanda will distribute the fortified foods throughout the entire country.

The fortified foods will be produced by sourcing locally grown maize and soya beans, which will be milled and then blended with a micro-nutrient pre-mix, skim milk powder and soy oil.

“The Government has put up a commendable effort to seek sustainable markets for local agricultural produce. By using locally grown maize and soya beans to produce fortified foods, this partnership is a right step in achieving this goal,” Geraldine Mukeshimana, the Minister of Agriculture said.

“Government will use the fortified foods that it purchases from the Joint Venture Company to fight malnutrition in the country and the Rwandans who will be employed in the factory will be able to develop expertise in this niche area,” the minister added.

The primary beneficiaries of the fortified foods will be; pregnant and breast-feeding mothers and older infants and young children.  However, these fortified foods can be used by the entire Rwandan population except babies below the age of 6 months, to fight malnutrition and improve their nutritional status.

This cooperation and partnership is inspired by solid evidence (http://www.thousanddays.org) that the first 1,000 days, from conception to the second birthday, are critical for a child’s physical and mental development.

All the investment partners of the joint venture strongly support and follow the WHO recommendation that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and long-term health. Thereafter, older infants and young children should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods, while continuing to be breastfed for up to two years or more.

“This joint venture demonstrates the increasing role that business can play in helping to solve the world’s greatest challenges, including malnutrition. We are proud to be supported by a unique coalition of committed partners to produce nutritious foods in Africa. Our commitment will create jobs and provide income to local farmers,” Ute Schick, CEO of AIF explained.

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