Ingredion Kenya is part of a public-private partnership that aims to provide 2.4 million malnourished school-age children with a nutritious, RTD ‘super porridge’ by 2025.
The partnership is funded by Kenya’s Ministry of Education via the National Council for Nomadic Education in Kenya (NACONEK). It aims to combat hunger and malnutrition experienced by school children in the arid and semi-arid regions of Kenya and to improve school attendance and educational performance.
By addressing malnutrition, the initiative aims to bring “a brighter future for these children” and serve as a beacon of hope for tackling malnutrition in Kenya and beyond.
The partnership, which Ingredion says is “the first of its kind for Africa,” brings together expertise from DSM, Ingredion and Tetra Pak, as well as the Kenyan government and other partners.
The porridge is made from locally sourced crops including maize, soybeans, sorghum and sweet potato. The initiative is committed to supporting the regional economy, with 12,000 small-scale farmers contracted to supply the raw materials.
The RTD porridge is sweetened using sweetener produced from the stevia plant, fortified with 15 micronutrients and processed and packed in a Tetra Brik Aseptic 250ml pack with a straw.
Kennedy Ouma, director, Africa and Middle East at Ingredion, says: “This is a very emotionally fulfilling project to be involved in, as we are bringing our purpose to life by making life better for underprivileged children by improving their nutrition and getting them back to school. Current launch covers 50,000 children this year, rising to 100,000 in 2024 and then upscaled to 2.4 million by 2025 as the funding increases.”
He continued: “This is a collaborative project, with all partners working together to secure a successful outcome from the onset. The core objective was formulating an affordable and nutritious product, based on climate-resilient crops with a minimum 6 months’ shelf life for ease of distribution and storage, as the arid regions of Kenya lack clean water and cold storage due to lack of electricity. Ingredion’s role was to provide the stabilising, texturizing and sweetening solutions expertise which was done through numerous trials by our teams in Nairobi, Kenya, Johannesburg, South Africa,and Luebeck, Germany, in idea labs and pilot plant facilities.”
As part of the programme, the companies plan on implementing training on food safety, product storage and hygiene. The used cardboard packaging will be recycled and converted into boards and used to make chairs and desks that will be donated to the schools covered in the programme.
According to Ingredion, every year, around three million children drop out of school due to drought in the arid and semi-arid regions of Kenya. Through the programme, data on school attendance, educational performance and the health and physical development of the children will be collected as part of the impact assessment.
The project involves the following partners: Kenya Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, NACONEK, DSM, Ingredion, Jetlak Foods, Qatar Foundation, Tetra Pak, Unibrain Industries and UNICEF.