Benin/Fight against malnutrition: The achievements of the Fortimoringa project unveiled
The Fortimoringa project has come to an end. A closing workshop was organized in this framework, last Friday, July 9 in Cotonou, in order to restitute the results, to evaluate the achievements and to consider the perspectives. It is an initiative of Hunger Project in collaboration with the University of Abomey-Calavi and the University of Wageningen, which promotes the use of Moringa oleifera leaves for better maternal and child nutrition in Benin.
The Fortimoringa project has just completed three years and has achieved a great deal. After more than thirty-six months of implementation, it is time to report the results. Polycarpe Kayodé, a professor at the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences of the University of Abomey-Calavi, took the opportunity to highlight the achievements: "From the point of view of Moringa cultivation, we were able to define the optimal conditions of production and have very high yields. The processing stage has enabled us to better appreciate the method of drying the leaf. The high quality flour has helped to save malnourished children.
The results of the study helped to define the ingredients to be mixed with the Moringa oleifera leaf in a proportion of 10% in order to effectively address the issue of malnutrition. It highlights the nutritional and health profile of the Moringa oleifera leaf powder produced in Benin, the conditions for stabilizing its powder, and the formulation and characterization of infant flours based on the powder of the said leaves.
The Fortimoringa project aims to meet the challenge of malnutrition in general and that of mothers and children in particular, while working to address relevant solutions to the paradox of malnutrition.
"Paradox in the sense that we are talking about malnutrition in a context where the resources with high nutritional values available in our country are not valued. We are talking about poverty in a context where resources that can generate income for poor communities, especially women, are not valued," says Pascal Djohossou, regional director of the Hunger Project.
The Moringa oleifera leaf is so nutritious that it crosses Benin's borders. "The presentation of the results of the final phase of the project comes at a time when we are talking about the World Food Summit and the major question is how to transform food systems so that they are sustainable.The restitution of results in the framework of the final phase of the project comes in a context where we are talking about the World Food Summit and where the major issue is how to transform food systems so that they are able to serve communities and remain in a dynamic of efficiency and effectiveness for the benefit of poor populations," he explains.
When it comes time to take stock, the testimonies reinforce the players' confidence. "If this project had not existed, it would have had to be invented in view of the quality of the research results, which led to a miracle product and from which we were able to produce a new product. If this project had not existed, it would have had to be invented in view of the quality of the research results, which led to a miracle product and from which it was possible to produce an infant flour enriched with Moringa leaves that complies with the standards and makes it possible to combat malnutrition," says Yécy Peggy Tohinlo, executive secretary of the civil society for the intensification of nutrition in Benin.
The Fortimoringa project owes its success to a trio: Hunger Project, which ensured the administrative coordination, the Uac through the Fsa, which coordinated the scientific component and the Wageningen University, through the mobilization of resources.
This sheet will do more wonders in Benin and in the world if the wishes of the project actors are fulfilled. "I would like to wish that the results of the present restitution can help to take up the challenge of malnutrition, improve the income of poor communities, initiate viable businesses within the country and improve the quality of life of the people.I would like to hope that the results of this report will help to meet the challenge of malnutrition, improve the incomes of poor communities, initiate viable businesses within the communities and encourage the creation of entrepreneurial models at the national and international levels," hopes Pascal Djohossou.
Hence the recommendations of Professor Polycarpe Kayodé, which indicate the steps to be followed for the development of the product: "It is important that the actors in charge of nutrition at the community level appropriate these results. The Uac has a pilot unit to produce this flour in quantity so that people can try it on large samples at the local level. It would also be good for small and medium enterprises to appropriate these results in order to produce in quantity for the well-being of the populations. Politicians must seize this opportunity to address the issue of malnutrition".
His advice is also valid for producers and processors. Everything starts from the field. "We must harvest in optimal conditions. People must avoid relieving themselves in the Moringa fields. After harvesting, it must be washed in the processing unit, drained and dried," he advises.
Packaging must also meet certain criteria.
"It is good to pack the product in an aluminium bag. Empty packaging can also extend the life of the product," he recommends.
The Fortimoringa project will be able to stand the test of time if these various measures are taken into account.