To advance the adoption of biofortified crops at the grassroots level, women remain key priority participants. For the CBC programme, this begins at the crop development stage when the breeding targets for crops’ micronutrient levels are set to meet the specific nutritional requirements of reproductive-age women and adolescent girls, as well as all young children.
Meet Beatrice Msafiri, a 44-year-old nutrition champion for the consumption of biofortified food products who lives in Arusha, Tanzania with her husband and two children. Beatrice’s journey in the growing and consumption of biofortified food products began in the year 2012 when she founded BIVAC Foods short for Beatrice, Ivan, Avin Company a combined abbreviation of her name and her 2 children’s names to meet the need to have easy access to fight hidden hunger.
‘‘When I was still young in marriage, we used to move from place to place with my family and I would buy milk from different shops for my children to drink. I noticed that my children would react to the milk.’’
It is through an appointment with the paediatrician that Beatrice came to specifically know what was ailing her children - hidden hunger. She was informed on the need to adhere to a balanced diet necessary for healthy eating consisting of five food groups namely; carbohydrates, proteins, dairy products, fruits and vegetables and fats and sugars. Beatrice then began feeding her children on a mixture of cereals consisting of millet, maize, nuts, and sorghum. Very quickly, she noticed a remarkable improvement in the health of her children who were no longer stunted and had clear vision.
‘‘I was stressed for a long time, and I had to seek specialized treatment for my children from a paediatrician who singled out hidden hunger as a result of malnutrition as the cause. The doctor informed me that if I fed my children with balanced diets enriched by biofortified meals their condition would improve.’’
A fully-fledged nutrition champion, Beatrice now supports GAIN in demand creation campaigns in the region of Arusha and Kilimanjaro onboarding more women in creating demand for biofortified food products. She does this through home visits, giving talks and distributing fliers while highlighting the micronutrient intake, their role in the body and technology to improve the consumption of biofortified food products to improve their nutrition and health outcomes in Arusha.
Previous participation in Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute – TARI’s led agricultural extension activities that sensitizes farmers and processors on growing and adding value to high iron beans resulted in BIVAC’s onboarding to became a high iron beans farmer and processor. In November 2021, BIVAC participated in capacity building sessions on demand creation of high iron beans with GAIN and qualified for a grant of USD 6400 to support BIVAC’s processing activities.
With this little start-up capital and some technical support from GAIN, she started growing and processing high iron beans and pro-vitamin A, PVA maize in her farm. She then started to directly engage farmers to grow high Iron beans to meet market demand for the biofortified beans food product in Arusha. The market reception was good and the high iron Beans product soon became a hit among farmers in Arusha.
With support from the USD 6400 grant from GAIN, BIVAC has made a difference in the Arusha community. BIVAC, has employed 3 young men and women to work for the organization – an office attendant, a chef and marketing officer. Generating income for her workers is one way she is engaging women in her community and creating awareness about the benefits of consuming high iron beans biofortified variety of JESCA in Arusha.
Through successful out-grower contracts with farmers, BIVAC has raised the nutritional status of her community where BIVAC has onboarded a number of farmers in growing high iron beans in over 17 acres and over 500 PVA small-scale farmers on 10 acres of land who sell their produce exclusively to BIVAC. Currently, BIVAC has over 33 vendors. The anchor of BIVAC is a small food processing centre where the local community is trained in food processing and taught business skills to improve their household’s nutrition and health by using biofortified high iron beans and PVA Maize. For the past one year, Beatrice has partnered with GAIN through the Commercialisation of Biofortified Crops, CBC project to mobilize a network of farmers, agro-dealers, and processors into a well-functioning and ever-growing growing end-to-end demand chain for biofortified high iron beans biofortified variety – JESCA and PVA Maize to bring these products to many more people to improve their nutrition and health outcomes.