By: Rati Bishnoi, Special Projects Intern at Women Deliver
Could chickpeas be a potential solution for meeting two of Ethiopia’s biggest challenges: child malnourishment and an underperforming economy?
PepsiCo, the World Food Programme (WFP), and USAID believe so. That’s why the company is entering into an innovative public-private partnership with the WFP and USAID to promote food and economic security in the east African nation. Under Enterprise EthioPEA, the three organizations will work with nearly 10,000 Ethiopian farmers to double chickpea yields by utilizing modern agricultural practices and better irrigation techniques. Ethiopia already supplies 287,000 tonnes per year—making it the sixth largest producer of chickpeas in the world and the largest producer in Africa—but it is estimated that yields could be significantly higher if improved farming methods are to be integrated.
A portion of these higher yields will then be used to produce a new, ready-to-eat food, specially designed to meet the nutritional needs of children—needs that grow more acute as the drought in the Horn of Africa persists. UNICEF estimates that Ethiopia’s under-five child mortality rate is 104 deaths per 1,000 children. Malnutrition among mothers can cause complications during pregnancy and childbirth, increasing the risk of maternal deaths, and among young children, illness, disabilities, and death. Easy to transport, ready-to-eat foods are an effective way of improving the nutrition of mothers and children during a humanitarian crises where food insecurity is rampant.
Modeled after “AchaMum,” a ready-to-eat product developed last year to feed children during Pakistan’s flood emergency, not only are chickpeas already a staple of Ethiopian diets, they are also high in protein, iron, and calcium. If successful, the two-year pilot project could expand from several thousand to 40,000 malnourished children in Ethiopia.
“What’s different about this is that the need on the humanitarian side is dovetailing so perfectly with the business plan on the corporate side,” WFP Director for Private Partnerships Nancy Roman told Reuters. TPepsiCo is also seeking to secure a long-term supply of chickpeas for Sabra hummus, which it co-owns, and other products that include chickpeas.
Flickr photo by: CIMMYT