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Special edition: Battling malnutrition

Dutch food companies collaborate to combat malnutrition in Africa and Asia

By Caroline Scott-Thomas+

24-May-2013

Dutch food companies have announced a partnership with government and NGOs to help improve nutrition in selected countries in Eastern Africa and Southern Asia.

Participating companies include Unilever, DSM, AkzoNobel, SPAR and Rijk Zwaan, which are part of the AIM (Amsterdam Initiative against Malnutrition) consortium formed in 2010, along with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and Dutch academic organizations, including Wageningen University.

The intention of the private-public partnership is to combat the malnutrition that results from a deficit of essential vitamins and minerals in some African and Asian countries. Projects include expanding access to hygiene products, vegetables and other nutritious foods; introducing a locally produced food supplement for pregnant women; and sourcing locally produced food for rural supermarkets.

 “By linking public and private resources we aim to show, in this partnership, sustainable, market-based models to improve access to good nutrition for poor consumers,” said AIM coordinator Charlotte Pedersen.

The project is expected to cost €22m, with half of the total being provided by the AIM members, and half through a government fund.

Pedersen added: “Consumers need to be encouraged to make healthy choices, but they must also be able to satisfy them in an affordable way. That is why the projects in the public-private partnership also focus on improving access to finance, creating work opportunities, using locally produced food and increasing farm incomes.”

DSM partnership to fortify staples

In parallel to this broad public-private partnership, DSM has announced that it will collaborate with World Vision to fortify staple foods like maize, wheat and rice with essential micronutrients in developing countries around the world.

"As the world's leading producer of vitamins and other micronutrients we have a clear responsibility to help solve the globe's most solvable problem: hidden hunger,” Royal DSM’s managing board member Stephan Tanda said in a statement. “Our partnership with World Vision will help provide nourishment to millions of vulnerable children. We will begin our work together in Tanzania, where we will fortify flour and build local capacity and understanding to provide genuinely sustainable solutions.”

The partnership aims to contribute to reducing the number of children under five who are stunted due to malnutrition by 2016.

DSM and World Vision said they would start by working with millers in Tanzania to improve food safety, and increase expertise, markets and profits.

"Evidence shows nutrition is the best investment we can make to achieve lasting progress in global health and development,” said World Vision International president Kevin Jenkins.

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