MINNEAPOLIS, MN, Mar. 16 /CSRwire/ - This month marks a watershed moment in nutrition and food security in Ethiopia: For the first time ever, local producers will begin fortifying wheat flour with the vitamins and minerals children need to develop and adults need to thrive. This achievement was made possible by a public-private partnership that stretches from mills, universities and government agencies in Ethiopia to the world’s largest multinational food companies, facilitated by a U.S.-based nonprofit.
Partners in Food Solutions (PFS) which, in partnership with TechnoServe and the U.S. Agency for International Development, connects employees at General Mills, Cargill, DSM and Bühler with high-potential food processors in five African countries, has worked with ASTCO, one of Ethiopia’s largest flour mills, to develop the technology and processes needed to fortify flour effectively and safely. Volunteer experts shared business and technical expertise with their Ethiopian counterparts through email, Skype, a proprietary web platform and occasional visits.
Other PFS volunteer experts have worked with more than 600 African food companies to improve food safety, packaging, processes, marketing and more to help them strengthen their businesses. In the end, this provides a sustainable route to affordable, nutritious, safe food for the local market and increases or sustains markets for the crops of smallholder farmers.
“The path to true food security in Africa isn’t simply more food aid,” said Jeff Dykstra, co-founder and CEO of Partners in Food Solutions. “The only sustainable way to end hunger is to strengthen the food supply chain. That’s why we’re focused on working with small and growing food processors.”
Chronic food insecurity and malnutrition are grave problems in Ethiopia, where two out of every five children suffer from stunting, which means a lack of critical nutrients has made them small for their age. Although the country’s economy is based largely on agriculture, millions of people require humanitarian assistance to survive. The availability of nutritious fortified wheat, a dietary staple in Ethiopia, is one step toward expanding access to nutritious food and reducing hunger.
In addition to ASTCO, about 150 wheat processors are receiving training or individualized assistance. The USAID helped fund the project, which PFS took on in partnership with the Africa-based organization TechnoServe and the African Alliance for Food Processing.
ASTCO and Partners in Food Solutions will celebrate the launch of its fortified flour at a ceremony in Addis Ababa on March 17, 2015.
TechnoServe is a nonprofit organization that works with enterprising people in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses and industries. They develop business solutions to poverty by linking people to information, capital and markets. TechnoServe offers in-depth country knowledge and works in partnership with PFS and USAID to implement the AAIFP program.