Panafrican News Agency

Tanzania launches marketplace to tackle malnutrition in communities

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) – In a fresh initiative to eliminate malnutrition, Tanzania on Tuesday launched an interactive platform bringing together local and medium enterprises, development partners and social investment firms to make nutritious foods available on the market for the entire population.

“The marketplace for nutritious food is important and unique in Tanzania, but it requires efforts from different stakeholders, including the private sector, to penetrate and reach communities at all levels,” said Charles Pallangyo, deputy permanent secretary in the Prime Minister’s office.

“A good business environment is an indispensable condition for its success,” Pallangyo told a gathering of government experts, representatives of development partners, private sector, civil society organisations and academia at the launch of the marketplace.

Various studies have shown that malnutrition is the most serious but least addressed global health problem, resulting from a lack of daily access to high quality nutritious food among other factors.

As a result of under-nutrition, 42 percent of Tanzania’s under five-years children were stunted, according to the country’s 2010 demographic health survey.

Pallangyo described the current status of malnutrition in the country as “high and unacceptable” and urged all stakeholders in production and distribution of nutritious foods to put their efforts together to reverse the situation.

In September 2011, the government came up with a multisectoral national nutrition strategy that has integrated nutrition into agriculture and gazetted mandatory fortification standards for edible oil, wheat and maize flour.

Under the national nutrition strategy, the government has set ambitious targets to reduce stunting by 15 percent and body wasting to below 5 percent by 2015.

In the meantime, the prevalence of anaemia among pregnant women will be brought down from 48 percent to 35 percent while breastfeeding is encouraged for all infants less than six months old.

“Nutritious foods are expensive and inaccessible to many people in urban as well as a rural areas of Tanzania,” said Bonnie McClafferty, Agriculture and Nutrition director of the US-based Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) through which the US Agency for International Development (USAID) is supporting Tanzania’s marketplace for nutritious foods.

To make nutritious foods available and affordable for low-income earners, McClafeferty told PANA: “We are creating opportunities for producers to raise production and gathering views on how improved nutrition can be addressed at community level.”

The government and its partners, the private sector in particular, expect the marketplace to provide aggregation of financial and physical resources, networking and business acceleration for effective engagement in the agriculture-nutrition supply chain.

According to Pallangyo, the marketplace allows innovative ideas to be tested, adapted and supported while it offers a platform where market failures and policy constraints to improving nutrition can be addressed.
-0- PANA AR/VAO 30July2013