A sip of vitamins
UN World Food Programme
“I supply nutritious fresh juices to pregnant women at my community hospital because most of these women suffer micronutrient deficiencies of vitamin A, zinc, iron and folate which are critical for development of babies,” says Mtisunge Banda, owner of LiveOnce Juicers, a small business in Likuni Township on the outskirts of Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi.
LiveOnce Juicers is one of 18 members of Malawi Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Business Network, a group of private companies engaged to promote nutrition in the country. Using modest equipment, LiveOnce Juicers processes locally grown fruits and vegetables to produce fresh nutritious juice. He gives part of the juices to pregnant women at a hospital in his township.
“Most pregnant women at this hospital are susceptible to anaemia — one of the leading causes of maternal deaths. The juices I am giving them are made of pawpaw and orange which are rich in iron, vitamin C and folic acid to boost their immunity from disease like flu but also Covid-19,” he says.
While a nutrition survey conducted in July 2019 found there is a sharp decline in acute malnutrition, Malawi continues to have one of the highest prevalence of chronic malnutrition and stunting Africa.
As part of its strategy to tackle malnutrition, WFP is partnering with the SUN Business Network to mobilize small and medium businesses to act and invest responsibly in improving nutrition. The network prioritizes creating demand for nutritious food products, improving the nutrition regulatory environment, and increasing scope for business opportunities in the nutrition environment.
“I joined the network because it promotes Malawian entrepreneurs. Since 2018, I have learnt to pitch my business ideas and it has been life-changing. The network has opened new business horizons and I supply fresh juices to individuals and corporate clients like Embassies and hotels,” says Mtisunge.
“Malawi is blessed with lots of natural fresh fruits rich in vitamins and micronutrients, but its population, particularly women and infants, suffers micronutrient deficiencies,” says Mtisunge. “It’s a shame that all juices consumed in Malawi are imported despite all that nature has given us.”
LiveOnce Juicers gets its raw materials from smallholder farmers, women vendors and community markets. This promotes the local economy by providing income to supplying households.
“I have a 12-hectare orchard where I have been growing a variety of fruits since 2015. Supplying to LiveOnce Juicers gives me at least 60,000 Malawi Kwacha (US$82) a month,” says Peter Mkweza, a supplier of raw materials to Mtisunge’s enterprise.
According to the latest nutrition survey conducted in 2019, there is a sharp decline in Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM), showing that investments in nutrition are paying off. However, stunting prevalence — a sign of chronic malnutrition — remains high at 37%. Even with the decline in undernutrition, continued efforts are needed to address micronutrient deficiencies and the high rates of stunting. The World Food Programme’s (WFP) nutrition programmes in Malawi are focusing on prevention of malnutrition with an emphasis on Government and Private Sector capacity strengthening.