We are inspired by the solid evidence that the 1000 days (from conception to the second birthday), are critical for a child’s physical and mental development. The Government of Rwanda has entered into a joint venture with Africa Improved Foods Ltd with the objective of improving the nutritional status of its population and help address malnutrition by manufacturing enhanced nutritious foods for vulnerable groups including the rural poor in Rwanda and the East Africa region.
AIF Rwanda starts production of nutritious foods to prevent malnutrition
KIGALI, Rwanda: -Africa Improved Foods (AIF) Rwanda has begun production of nutritious porridge flours to help prevent malnutrition in Rwanda through their new international standard factory located in the Kigali Special Economic Zone. In 2013, Rwanda launched the ‘1000 days’ national campaign to combat malnutrition with an aim of improving maternal and child health in the country: It has been scientifically proven that the 1,000-day window has a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and thrive. Two years later, the government of Rwanda entered into a joint venture with other partners to invest in this high-tech facility. The objective of the venture is to improve the nutritional status of Rwanda’s population and help address malnutrition by manufacturing international quality complementary nutritious foods for vulnerable groups.
Prosper Ndayiragije, the Country Director of AIF Rwanda, recently announced that the factory has started producing complementary flours for porridge that will be introduced to the commercial market by mid-March. AIF also produces highly nutritious blended flours for the Government of Rwanda and the World Food Programme (WFP) with the intention to help address malnutrition and stunting in young children amongst the population at the base of the pyramid. “With this state of the art facility, we have started producing nutritious products intended to address malnutrition among vulnerable population segments such as pregnant and breast-feeding mothers, older infants and young children more especially in the first 1,000 days of their lives,”Ndayiragije said.
“Besides government of Rwanda, we are also supplying other clients like the UN World Food Program (WFP) to help facilitate an efficient response to food emergencies in East Africa. We are also on the verge of unveiling on a commercial scale, nutritional products for the local and regional market,” he added.Malnutrition is a key public health concern in Rwanda. The 2010 Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey results showed that chronic malnutrition affects 38% of children under the age of five years, resulting in stunting. “AIF Rwanda is inspired by solid evidence that the first 1000 days (from conception to the second birthday), are critical for a child’s physical and mental development, also helping to prevent stunting if they are given the right nutrition,” Bernard Banamwana, the Senior Relations Manager of AIF Rwanda said. “These nutritious foods are being produced by sourcing locally grown maize and soya beans, which are then milled and blended with micro-nutrient pre-mix, skim milk powder and soy oil procured from our international partners,” he added.
AIF Rwanda is a product of a joint venture of four international partners: Royal DSM, FMO, DFID and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). According to Ndayiragije, the plant intends to reach more than one million people this year, creating over 300 direct jobs and working with over 9,000local farmers in the process. “At AIF, we strive to maximize the positive social, economic and environmental impact on the communities in which we operate.” “We are proud to be supported by a unique coalition of committed partners to produce international quality and nutritious foods in Africa and our commitment will create jobs and provide income to local farmers,” Ndayiragije continued.
AIF is a joint venture between the Dutch Multinational DSM (the largest producer of vitamins globally), the International Finance Corporation (IFC is part of the World Bank), FMO, (the Dutch development bank), CDC, (the Development Finance Institution of the UK Government’s Department for International Development) and the Government of Rwanda. The objective of this joint venture is to create a sustainable solution to fight malnutrition in Rwanda.
Africa Improved Foods was created in response to an invitation from the Rwandan Government and CHAI (Clinton Health Access Initiative). The focus of the initiative is to help people - vulnerable populations (particularly pregnant and breast-feeding mothers, older infants and young children) maximize health and growth, and therefore, their future potential through improved nutrition with affordable, high quality, locally sourced foods.
GoR has played a critical role in facilitating the set-up of the joint venture in Rwanda. In the newly formed company Africa Improved Foods– registered by DSM on behalf of the JV – the Government will own a small equity share, but it will not participate in day-to-day business decisions. Government has also guaranteed an output market for the fortified foods which is a key success factor for the venture.