Livelihood of infants and children at tender ages is expected to improve dramatically over the next years when the Africa Improved Foods starts production of fortified foods.
The AIF is expecting to invest $ 45 million or an estimated Rwf 37 billion in the manufacturing of a myriad brands of fortified foods including fortified milk, cooking oil, cereals, porridge, maize flakes, soya and many other blends of edible products.
Construction work on the accommodating industry are already complete where it will be located in the Kigali Special Economic Zone in Gasabo district.
AIF is partnering with the Government as the largest shareholder in the investment.
Initially needy 120,000 children and mothers from vulnerable families categorized in the Ubudehe stratification program will benefit from the investment. And the Ministry of Health and Local Government preparing to identify and list all the children and mothers that will benefit from the industry.
The investment follows the recently concluded countrywide campaign by Minisante and partners to reduce malnutrition and pertinent stunted growth from 51 per cent in 2005 to 38 by 2015 as shown by Rwanda Demographic Health Survey 2014/2015 (RDHS, 2014/15).
Minisante Permanent Secretary, Dr Jean Pierre Nyemazi, noted that the country still needs to more to end stunted growth among children below 18 years in 2018.
AIF and Minisante agreed that over the next five years the ministry will be purchasing and distributing Fortified Blended Food to the beneficiaries of the complete nutritious FBF.
Minisante says the each beneficiary will be entitled to receiving three kilograms of blended porridge cereals per month with the exact quantity dependent on the child’s age.
Prosper Ndayiragije, AIF country director, says that the FBF will comprise the ‘Shisha Kibondo ’ a cereal –blended nutritious food product one type mixed for children and the other for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
AIF noted earlier on that their raw materials will come from 9,000 local small-holder maize and soya farmers to also improve their incomes with additional of 230 direct jobs. But the factory still needs more than 10% of maize and soya to process 28,000 tons of maize and 11,000 tons of soya per year to package 45,000 tons of fortified food annually. Some of the needed raw materials will be imported from Uganda.
In 2015 the Ministry of Agriculture registered 370,124 tons were produced while the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) is still low at 35000 but can feed the AIF machines per year. AIF to manufacture enough cooking oil from soya needs more than 45000 tons of raw soya beans which would save the country $42 million annually spent on imports from regional industries.
“We intend to provide affordable, highly nutritious, quality fortified food,” Ndayiragije says the products will be in markets early 2017.
AIF, he said, would subsidize some of the products sold to Minagri so that many children benefit from the highly nutritious foods.