Healthy Food, Healthy Society:

Supporting Youth-led African Agrifood Businesses Creates Wellbeing for Local Communities 

The food we grow and eat is directly related to the physical health of our people. From a social perspective, a healthy local agriculture and food sector impacts our traditions and cultures, creates jobs for local workers, and determines whether our communities are self-sufficient. Policies and laws that govern land have a major impact on women’s rights and the strength of rural communities. 

In this article we look at some of the social aspects of the food system, and how impact-driven agrifood companies empower health and societal wellbeing. 

Food is our first line of defence against illness and disease. Food affects immune response to diseases, and it is the fuel our bodies use to rebuild tissue when healing from injuries.

Access to nutrition is so important, South Africa wrote children’s right to nutrition into the constitution. But as Mail and Guardian reports, “27% of children under five” suffer from stunting due to chronic malnutrition. In Tanzania, a country with good food security, 30% of the children are stunted. The life-long effects for these children are devastating. Not only are they physically smaller, but their brain development is also injured. 

On an individual level, physical and cognitive impairment means these young people will be unable to achieve their potential in life. On a community and country level, it means the human workforce cannot contribute to the betterment of their families, the prosperity of their villages, or the growth of the nation.

Benu Foods in Ethiopia is a GoGettaz Community Member that tackles malnutrition in an interesting way. They have designed a nutritious, protein-rich biscuit that provides about 50% of a child’s daily calorie needs. For every biscuit they sell to the public, they donate another biscuit to a child-in-need in a rural school. This ensures the children have the energy they need to tackle their education!

Stunting is just one example of how food affects the health of our entire society. Laws governing land ownership and access to resources in the food system determines the balance of power in communities and equal access can greatly improve the health of rural communities.

In a great article for the World Economic Forum by Jamila Abass, CEO of M-Farm, she recounts how “women account for nearly half of the world’s smallholder farmers and produce 70% of Africa’s food. Yet, less than 20% of land in the world is owned by women and over 65% of land in Kenya is governed by customary laws that discriminate against women.” 

A revealing project at the Laikipia Permaculture Centre, in an area where laws prevent women from owning land, proved the power of gender equity when a group of 25 women were provided a barren stretch of earth and they transformed it into an income-generating farm. “These women are now generating income from growing aloe vera and keeping bees, and they can feed their families every day, instead of the previous 11 meals per month,” Jamila reports.

A food system designed for the wellbeing of ALL people, young, old, men and women, will empower local communities, provide jobs, and make them self-sufficient and resilient against climate change. A healthy food system means a healthy country.

Socially conscious businesses understand these dynamics and the impact on their communities. That is why many GoGettaz are hard at work building companies that help rural communities and provide nutrition where it is needed most.

Cooking oil producer, OBRI Tanzania, is a GoGettaz Member who takes great pride in working with, training, and supporting smallholders and women farmers. By providing their farmers with quality certified seeds and helping them to design environmentally sustainable, high-yielding farms, they get top-quality ingredients for their oils. Although OBRI needs sunflower seeds, the wellbeing of their farmers is of first concern. They use their expertise and resources to help farmers grow other cash crops like beans, peas, maize, and onions.  OBRI Tanzania has even sponsored demonstration plots this year, which are fields that can be used to teach, experiment, and develop best practices. 

In Uganda, Vertical and Micro Gardening (VMG) is another GoGettaz Member hard at work empowering low-income urban families with an organic, vertical farm of their own design. Their urban farming solution has an integrated vermicomposting chamber that turns waste into plant fertiliser and can grow up to 200 plants on less than 1 square meter of land. This gives land-poor households the ability to grow their own nutritious, fresh vegetables and the excess can be sold for an additional income.  

Companies like these are models for a responsible, healthy food system. They grow Africa and deserve to be recognised. That is why Generation Africa created the GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize Competition, awarding two impressive businesses with US$50,000 each to support their growth. 

The 2022 GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize Competition is open for entries until 6 June 2022. If you are a socially minded business bringing nutrition and equal opportunities to local communities, start your application today!

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