A small but growing number of women are heading up agribusinesses in Africa, some of which are producing innovative products to combat malnutrition.
Oluwaseun Sangoleye’s son developed rickets after rejecting baby formula. So, she started a business to make natural baby cereal from locally-sourced ingredients in Nigeria.
“My personal experience opened me up to the dearth of nutrient dense, affordable meal solutions for infants and young children,” Sangoleye told IPS. Sangoleye is one of a small but growing number of women who are heading up agribusinesses in Africa, some of which are producing innovative products to combat malnutrition.
While there are no conclusive figures on the number of women participating in agribusinesses across the continent, the African Women in Agribusiness Network (AWAN) states that it works in 42 African countries, linking 1,600 women’s networks in different sectors.
In the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) says healthy diets, including fruits, vegetables and protein-rich foods cost more than $1.90 a day — the global poverty threshold. Estimates show than more than three billion people cannot afford a healthy diet and in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, hence 57 percent of the population is affected.
Since opening Shais Foods in 2014, Mirriam Nalomba has sought to transform grain-based mono-diets in Zambia by offering baby cereals from millet, sorghum, cassava, soya bean and Vitamin A orange maize. “We cannot use imported foods to combat malnutrition, locally-grown crops will produce nutritious foods,” Nalomba told IPS.
The Food Sustainability Index (FSI) developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition (BCFN), shows that Zambia has a high prevalence of malnutrition and stunting for children under five years of age, as scored under nutritional challenges, one of the three pillars of the FSI. Chronic malnutrition affects 39 percent of children under five years in Zambia, according to the FAO. IPS News