Making business work for nutrition, and nutrition work for business
In the Tamil Nadu and Assam regions in India, and in Kenya and Malawi, every third child is stunted because of malnutrition. A diverse diet – one incorporating many food groups – can be the difference between poor and good health. IDH works together with GAIN and Unilever to counter malnutrition through the Seeds of Prosperity programme. Tea farming families are trained to develop better habits for a more diverse diet and better health.
Farming families are targeted because they tend to consume a monotonous diet: often they sell their most nutritious food, and so their diet mainly consists of things like rice, bread and wheat – inexpensive and filling, but lacking in essential nutrients.
The Seeds of Prosperity programme aims, through commodity supply chains, to improve tea sector workers’ diets and hygiene practices. A successful pilot has reached 2,600 farmers in Tamil Nadu, India and the programme will now be replicated in tea farming communities in Assam as well as Kenya and Malawi, benefiting a further 300,000 people.
Women who participated in the pilot programme reported a 41% increase in the variety of foods consumed, almost double the 24% increase in women who were not part of the programme. There was also a 41% increase in the number of households which grew vegetables in their home-gardens. The hygiene component saw 78% of tea growers washing their hands before lunch daily, compared to 51% of growers who did not participate in the programme.
Through an approach that involves five steps to change behaviour, the Seeds of Prosperity programme ensures that dietary diversity is easy to understand and that the results are lasting. Farming families are trained on why a diverse diet matters, what it looks like, and how others can improve their diets. They learn diverse eating habits and are encouraged to monitor their progress and so directly experience the benefits.
The nine-week programme is comprised of six weeks of nutrition training and 21 days of handwashing training. Both parts have five key components: Awareness, Commitment, Reinforcement, Reward, and Follow up.
IDH’s Malawi Tea 2020 programme prioritises the provision of more nutritious meals for workers on tea estates by fortifying maize. To date, approximately 13,000 workers are receiving a fortified meal. To supplement the fortified meal, the provision of weekly vegetables became mandatory in March 2016. Tea estates are setting up their own vegetable gardens, though in the meantime they are sourcing vegetables from the market. Under the Malawi Tea programme the fortification of midday meals will be scaled up to other estates in Malawi.
Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands in her role as UN Secretary-General's Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA) joined over 50 public and private executives to shape the future of the IDH Smallholder Innovation Platform that will serve as an expertise center and innovation catalyst for sustainable smallholder business models.
On a recent field visit to India, Bärbel Weiligmann - Special Advisor for Global Value Chains at GAIN – saw first-hand the multiple benefits that the Seeds of Prosperity project has on improving nutrition for tea farming families.
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