PepsiCo, USAID, WFP Partner to Increase Food Security in Horn of Africa with Chickpeas
September 29, 2011 | Andrew Burger
PepsiCo, the US International Agency for International Development (USAID) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) are joining in an effort to boost agricultural production and improve food security in East Africa. Dubbed “Enterprise EthioPEA,” the initiative centers on increasing chickpea production in Ethiopia.
Widely grown and consumed throughout the Mediterranean, North and East Africa and the Middle East from ancient times to today, chickpeas are a high-protein food and meat alternative that can be sustainably produced and reduce individuals’ risk of heart disease and diabetes, the partners noted in a press release.
Ethiopia is already the largest producer of chickpeas in Africa. Aiming to boost sustainable production even further, PepsiCo, USAID and the WFP program’s main goals are three-fold:
- Boost Ethiopian chickpea production by putting advanced agricultural and irrigation practices in the hands of 10,000 Ethiopian farmers.
- Develop and distribute chickpeas as a protein-rich supplementary food, reaching 40,000 Ethiopian children less than 2 years old.
- Improve the supply chain to increase availability of chickpeas for both Ethiopian and international consumers.
“This unique partnership illustrates how we can develop market-based solutions and leverage resources to make a sustainable impact in reducing hunger and poverty, which is particularly critical in light of the crisis in the Horn of Africa,” said Dr. Rajiv Shah, USAID’s administrator.
“In addressing both immediate hunger needs and supporting opportunities for smallholder farmers to boost their earning potential through increased productivity, it will advance the objectives of Feed the Future, the U.S. global hunger and food security initiative.”
“Feed the Future” is the name of the Obama administration’s campaign to strengthen sustainable agriculture and enhance food security in regions vulnerable to and already adversely affected by environmental degradation. The program focuses on increasing accessibility to staple foods, improving trade and transport routes, and applying appropriate scientific research and technology to help local populations restore food self-sufficiency and weather environmental calamities.
“This initiative will positively impact the livelihood of local farmers, address the critical issue of famine in the Horn of Africa and create sustainable business opportunities for PepsiCo,” said Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo chairman and CEO
To address the immediate needs of the thousands starving in the Horn of Africa region, USAID awarded contracts to three US companies to deliver “ready-to-use therapeutic food” (RUTF) to thousands of under-nourished children in the region. RUTF shipments sufficient to provide for almost 130,000 children have already been arranged. A peanut-based paste, RUTF is a mixture of milk, oil, sugar, vitamins and minerals concocted specifically to restore the health of under-nourished children.
“Thanks to America’s peanut producers and the American people, this purchase is helping to support U.S. jobs and getting a highly nutritious food product to severely malnourished children in the Horn of Africa,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, whose agency identified the companies able to produce and RUTF. “Our efforts to support food security are critically important to contributing to a more stable world.