The Amsterdam Initiative against Malnutrition (AIM) was launched in 2009 as a joint project of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Unilever, DSM, AkzoNobel, ICCO Cooperation, the Wageningen University and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). AIM brought together around 25 partners to explore innovative and sustainable solutions to address malnutrition.
AIM uses a market-based approach and develops new social business models to ensure projects are financially sustainable in the long-term. The goal is to create systemic change and address barriers to market entry for nutritious products. This is done by bringing the different stakeholders together - businesses, governments, knowledge institutes and civil society organisations - the so called "Dutch Diamond".
Having evolved from an innovative conception period between 2009 and 2012, a number of AIM projects are currently implemented.
Vegetables for all
In northern Tanzania, the extreme wet and dry seasons make it difficult for the poorest consumers to access affordable vegetables. At the same time, there is a lack of awareness about the need to include vegetables in daily diets to meet nutritional needs. These issues are exacerbating already high levels of malnutrition in the region. In Kilimanjaro, 28% of children aged 0-59 months are stunted, and in Tanga the figure increases to 49%. Adults are affected too, with 35% of women aged 15-49 suffering from anaemia in Tanga.
"Vegetables for all" is being implemented as part of the Amsterdam Initiative against Malnutrition (AIM) to help tackle this malnutrition problem. Activities are carried out in the regions of Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Manyara and Tanga in Tanzania and the project partners include ICCO Cooperation, the Rabobank Foundation, the Dutch seed company Rijk Zwaan, the Tanzanian Horticulture Association (TAHA), Wageningen University Centre for Development Innovation, the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC) and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).
The objective of "Vegetables for all" is to increase dietary diversity and micronutrient intake through increased consumption of fresh and dried vegetables by the base of the pyramid consumers. This is achieved through improving the quality and quantity of fresh and dried vegetables; strengthening the vegetable value chains to improve access and availability; and through targeted marketing and behavioural change communication campaigns to create demand for the products. Ultimately, we aim to enhance the availability, affordability and the consumption of nutritious foods to reduce malnutrition among Tanzanian families.
In South Africa, a high proportion of local vegetables do not make it to the supermarket shelves. This is largely due to the lack of quantity, quality and variety of local produce. The "Rural hubs" project intends to change this using the "Rural hub" concept as a sustainable business model that delivers fresh, affordable food to supermarkets by connecting them with local smallholder farmers.
The "Rural hub" model is based on the idea of creating a central hub – or Fresh Assembly Point (FAP) – to enable produce from local smallholder farmers to be collected in one location to supply local retail stores. By connecting the local market-oriented smallholder farmers to FAPs, the cold chain is shortened and availability and affordability of local sourced fresh vegetables is improved.
Farmers are supported and empowered in their vegetable production by the provision of technical assistance, agricultural training and improved access to finance.
Once local stores are provided with more fresh nutritious produce, the project partners will embark on targeted campaigns demonstrating the importance of nutritious and safe food in a diverse diet enhancing the market pull for fresh produce. Ultimately, the project aims to increase vegetable consumption by the base of the pyramid consumers in South Africa by sustainably improving the access, affordability and consumption of nutritious foods in the long term.
SPAR International is the lead partner in the project, supported by SPAR South Africa, Rijk Zwaan, Base of the Pyramid (BoP) Innovation Centre, Wageningen University Centre for Development Innovation and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). The "Rural hubs" concept will be implemented in three locations in South Africa (Mopani, Eastern Mpumulanga and KwaZulu-Natal). This project acts as a proof of concept. If proved successful, SPAR aims to scale up the concept to other locations within South Africa and into other African countries.