Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa is hatching a new partnership to tackle nutrition deficiency by providing bio-fortified foods to 1.2 million schoolchildren in Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi through school feeding programs.
Over the next three years, the partnership that is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, will work with governments in the three countries to provide iron-rich beans and maize meal fortified with Vitamin-A to the schoolchildren.
AGRA through an official statement says the initiative aims to support the governments to progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal on zero hunger, anchored on good nutrition through homegrown school feeding programs.
The program will strengthen production of bio fortified crops and improve access to these foods through school feeding programs and other institutional markets in these countries.
In Kenya, where 37 percent of children are either stunted or underweight, AGRA has already supported plant breeders and seed companies to release five high-iron and zinc-rich bean varieties.
The new varieties have been well received by farmers and consumers due to high yields, resistance to environmental and pest challenges, and appealing sensory and culinary qualities.
Speaking during the launch of the partnership in Nairobi, AGRA Kenya Country Head, John Macharia said the need for highly nutritious food is more urgent now than ever before.
“Better nutrition is essential to attaining Sustainable Development Goals. Globally, over 2 million people suffer from extreme micronutrient deficiency, yet these micro elements are easily accessible by choice of the right seed to grow. Investment in nutrition returns USD 9 to the economy for every USD 1 spent.”Macharia
The Rockefeller Foundation’s Food Initiative representative, Betty Kibaara explained that by broadening school feeding programs and prioritizing access to highly nutritious food, the health of these children will be improved and bring about wider transformations in the food system.
“Through this partnership, we are dedicated to bringing an end to hunger and micronutrient deficiency, enhancing food systems, and sustaining livelihoods.’’
The program, a partnership between AGRA, HarvestPlus and the Governments will complement institutional procurement efforts in Kenya, strengthening the ecosystem for sustainable delivery of bio-fortified crops to school feeding programs and improving the nutrition and productivity of children in these countries.
But what exactly is AGRA?
Founded in 2006, AGRA is an African-led African-based organization that seeks to catalyze Agriculture Transformation in Africa.
AGRA is focused on putting smallholder farmers at the center of the continent’s growing economy by transforming agriculture from a solitary struggle to survive into farming as a business that thrives.
As the sector that employs the majority of Africa’s people, nearly all of them small-scale farmers, AGRA recognizes that developing smallholder agriculture into a productive, efficient, and sustainable system is essential to ensuring food security, lifting millions out of poverty, and driving equitable growth across the continent.
The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation is a pioneering philanthropy built on collaborative partnerships at the frontiers of science, technology, and innovation that enable individuals, families, and communities to flourish.