My name is Mizero Jean Felix, 28, from Rwanda: a thousand-hills country, located in East Central Africa. Rwanda is a small country with about 13 million people and is classified as developing. I have a bachelor’s degree (2010) in food science and technologies (FST) from the Kigali Institute of Science and Technologies (KIST).
To be awarded a bachelor’s degree, I conducted a nutrition-related project: Nutritional status of preschool children and its relationship to gender household headship difference. At the end of my research, I found that my scope was not focused on the source of nutritious foods which could be found in Rwanda. This challenged me while I was asking the questions related to a balanced diet formulation and composition, which could be used for combatting malnutrition disorders observed in some households.
In 2012, I was hired by a local organization known as Initiative Pour la Promotion de la Famille et du Genre (IPFG). Here, I have a mission to develop low-cost products, to be used to treat nutritional disorders and promote local food autonomy. This pushes me to think about the food supplement known as Spirulina platensis. Spirulina is a microscopic blue algae, cultivated easily at home and with high protein content—twice that found in soybeans and three times that in beef. But, it is not in the scope of the project which I was hired to supervise.
Later, I thought about a project: Spirulina cultivation and development related products—a project which will improve the nutritional status of citizens, and promote climate change adaptation and mitigation
I would like to develop this project mainly by involving community to:
Lift the socio-economic status of vulnerable persons in the region where I live. This will reduce the rate of stunted children, nutritional disorders for lactating women, and generate income for people working on the farm and in the processing unit of dry Spirulina.
Develop products and technologies that could be used in other regions and food industries. This means that Spirulina could be used as a natural food additive for preparing a balanced diet for poor people, as well as natural food supplements for food products manufactured in my country and East Africa.
To attend to the above objectives, the project will be based on local realities and advocated by reference to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), numbers 1, 2 and 3 on sustainable food security and healthy people.
We will promote the six global targets/2025 of the World health Organization (WHO) that state:
- 40% reduction in the number of children under-five who are stunted
- 50% reduction of anaemia in women of reproductive age
- 30% reduction in low birth weight
- No increase in childhood overweight
- Increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months up to at least 50%
- Reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5%
The project beneficiaries will be classified and determined based on the group age’s nutritional requirements but also on nutritional deficiency disorders observed. The involvement of local authorities will also help to expand the project in different regions.
My innovations and scientific research will be based on the formulation of a mixed product which will include the cereals, legumes, and Spirulina—a high-protein crop. As I said, I have developed composite flour of cereals and legumes (maize, red sorghum, wheat, and roasted soybean) eaten as porridge by all persons from six months. This product developed earlier did not fight effectively the malnutrition disorders, but I hope that after formulating new products referring to the Recommended Dietary allowances (RDA) should contribute more to combat malnutrition disorders.
The key steps for implementing this project are the following:
- Development of the project referring to the project cycle life
- Stakeholder mapping and preparing the first contact
- Defining clearly the project outcomes based on the ideas collected from stakeholders
- Installation of the demonstration plot of cultivated Spirulina and the manual drying facilities for obtaining the dry matter of Spirulina
- Community mobilization on the WHO global target/2025 and the impact of Spirulina for combatting malnutrition
- Identification of the vulnerable people (children under five years and lactating women) who will use Spirulina as a food supplements, where their nutritional status will be monitored at three months.
- Success story development and advocating the impact of Spirulina intake with other types of food to the amelioration of the nutritional status of those vulnerable.
- Commercial products development and marketing plan.
- Community mobilisation about Home cultivation of Spirulina and its naturally consumption
A grant of USD 5,000 will be used for the following activities:
- USD 2,115 will be used to install the demonstration plot and manual drying facilities, as I already have the land
- USD 700 will be used for salaries of three permanent employees and one temporary employee, about six months as a basic salaries, so that the project will be monitored effectively
- USD 530 will be used to monitor the nutritional status of ten vulnerable persons in sixty days,
- USD 455 will be used for products development mainly the packaging materials
- USD 360 helps to establish small quality testing especially the moisture content of dried Spirulina so that the shelf-life will be long enough
- USD 500 will be used for determining the nutritional composition of the dried matter of Spirulina by an authorized local agency for quality control
- USD 340 will be used into the products marketing and distribution
Furthermore, the project will collect sales revenues from sold products to be used as revolving funds. I will collaborate with the health centre, hospitals, and other nutrition centres to approach the low-nutrition vulnerable.
Voting for me, helps the World health Organization (WHO) achieve the 2025 targets.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Mizero Jean Felix (Rwanda): mizerojeanfelix[at]gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar are at the discretion of the author only.
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