We are pleased to announce that BMZ (German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development) has decided to support a brand new Linking Farmers to Markets project, namely: ‘Making Value Chains Work for Food and Nutrition Security of Vulnerable Populations in East Africa’.

This three-year project will use a holistic approach for linking smallholder bean-based production systems in Kenya and Uganda to informal markets for affordable, safe, and nutritious foods. Currently, nutritious foods are developed, produced, distributed, and marketed in ways that often do not take into account the economic and social circumstances of consumers at the base of the pyramid, leading to a lack of access to nutritious and affordable food for the poor. The project will combine innovative research on consumer and nutrition economics, food science, and postharvest handling with participatory nutrition-sensitive value chain assessment and upgrading methods.

Improving diets

The project goal is to improve the diets of vulnerable rural and urban consumers at the base of the pyramid, specifically women of reproductive age and children 6−59 months old, in Kenya and Uganda. This will be achieved through increased consumption of more diverse, safe, and nutrient-dense foods sourced from multiple crops cultivated by farmer associations and delivered through market-based solutions, which improve the food and nutrition security, income, and livelihoods of actors along the value chain. The challenge is to provide vulnerable groups with dietary diversity by combining beans with underutilized foods such as amaranth leaves that can improve nutrition.

By making a nutrient dense bean-based porridge affordable, a family that may not have the resources to cook beans, vegetables and cereals three times a day can now boil a composite and safe porridge that takes only ten minutes to cook and is made from at least four food groups. This way, the project will increased micronutrient intake and contribute to improved diet quality in terms of increased diet diversity.

Linking different actors

The project purpose is to facilitate participatory processes aimed at ensuring that nutrition-sensitive tools, methods, and technologies generated by the project for analyzing and upgrading bean-based value chains in Kenya and Uganda are used by project partners in national research and innovation systems, including the private sector, to improve the supply, price, and quality of more diverse, accessible, affordable, convenient and nutrient-dense bean-based processed complementary foods produced by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for vulnerable populations.

The project will be led and coordinated by CIAT. It will be executed in collaboration with the Universities of Göttingen and Hohenheim in Germany, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) in Uganda and the Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA). Links will be established with other Value Chains for Nutrition (VCN) projects that are part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH). The project will build on previous work with bean and amaranth value chains in informal urban and peri-urban settings in Kenya and Uganda, which CIAT began in 2015 with support from A4NH.

It is expected that 50,000 rural and urban consumers will have been reached by the end of the project, with the potential of reaching two million in Uganda and three million in Kenya within three years after the project. Additionally, improved market access, more inclusive business models, low-cost postharvest technology, decreased transaction costs, and increased economic returns will benefit private sector partners and thousands of smallholder bean farmers in Kenya and Uganda. The project results will position CIAT as one of the leading research organizations on nutritionally sensitive value chains.

This blog was written by: Matthias Jäger & Irene van Loosen

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