Project developing healthy foods to combat malnutrition, obesity and food security begins

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By verenardo Meeme, 26 March 2021

  • Project develops nutritious food products from traditional and resilient African crops 
  • Project aims to tackle worsening food security in Africa resulting from increasing population and declining agricultural production
  • Project supports the launch of diverse and healthy foods from African farms to local and export markets 

Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International, University of Nairobi Enterprise Services, and Chuka University and development partners yesterday held an inception webinar for the InnoFoodAfrica Project that is set to explore climate smart African cereal, pulse and root crops to develop healthy ingredients and demonstrate their huge potential to combat malnutrition in children, pregnant women, adults under risk of obesity and food security. The Project will increase the diversity of affordable, nutrient-dense and healthy food products based on local crops, and educate people to eat more wholesomely, according to Africa Harvest. 

“Kenya is part of InnoFoodAfrica which is an African-European collaboration project that also includes Ethiopia, Uganda and South Africa. The project will also develop and demonstrate optimal solutions for cultivation practices, processing and productization towards new food products, business solutions and value chains,” said Dr. Florence Wambugu, Chief Executive Officer, Africa Harvest during the inception webinar for the project held yesterday.

The targeted impact of InnoFoodAfrica is also aimed at tackling the fundamental twin challenges of our time – that of increasing population and declining agricultural production which is resulting in worsening food security in Africa. 

The VTT Technological Research Centre of Finland coordinated InnoFoodAfrica will strive to fight against malnourishment by developing nutritious food products from traditional and resilient African crops. Generated side streams will be converted to food packaging materials. “Crops like sorghum, finger millet, teff, amaranth, faba bean, orange fleshed sweet potato, bambara and cowpea have great nutritional value, but they are underutilized due to technological challenges in the preparation of food products and acceptable quality for urban consumers,” explains Raija Lantto the InnoFoodAfrica Project Coordinator from VTT. 

The project partners in Kenya are working with stakeholders in the Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato, cowpeas, finger millet and amaranth value chains in 5 wards in Tharaka Nithi and Busia counties.

The project supports business creation to launch diverse and healthy foods from African farms to local and export markets. The three-year project is designed by a strong multidisciplinary consortium of 18 partners, dominated by 13 African organisations from all the four focus countries with deep understanding of local needs and supported by 5 European partners with thorough knowledge on up-to-date food and packaging technologies and nutrition. 

InnoFoodAfrica envisages deploying Afro-European co-creation power to start redefining the African food system with a focus on strengthening African plant-based food markets in Eastern and Southern Africa regions and in Europe. Novel African plant-based food stuffs will also reach the European markets as a result of new business models and value chains developed in the project, Africa Harvest statement read.  

The project’s goals will be enabled by working on strategic food crops in the partner countries, and developing climate-change resilient agrofood systems, including research, development and capacity building. The goal will be achieved by technology development combined with training and communication activities (with a focus on women engagement) in farming practices, nutrition, ingredient and food solutions, bio-based packaging to reduce food loss and waste, as well as related business creation. 

The InnoFoodAfrica project will run for 42 months (August 2020 –January 2024), with a budget of €6.5 million.

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