Freshly squeezed business idea brings nutrients for Malawian mothers
"I supply nutritious fresh juices to pregnant women at my community hospital," says Mtisunge Banda, owner of LiveOnce Juicers, a small business in Likuni township on the outskirts of Lilongwe, capital of Malawi.
"Most suffer deficiencies of vitamin A, zinc, iron and folate which are critical for the development of babies."
LiveOnce Juicers is one of 18 members of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) business network, a group of private companies promoting nutrition in Malawi. Using modest equipment, LiveOnce Juicers processes locally grown fruits and vegetables to produce fresh nutritious juice. Mitsunge 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 mortality," he says. "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 against disease like flu."
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 rates of chronic malnutrition and stunting in Africa.
WFP is partnering with the SUN Business Network to mobilize small- and medium-sized 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 the scope for business opportunities in nutrition.
"I joined the network because it promotes Malawian entrepreneurs," says Mtisunge. "Since 2018, I have learned 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."
He adds: "Malawi is blessed with lots of natural fresh fruits rich in vitamins and minerals, but its population, particularly women and infants, suffer micronutrient deficiencies.
"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 participating families.
"I have a 12-hectare orchard where I have been growing a variety of fruits since 2015," says Peter Mkweza, a supplier of raw materials to Mtisunge's enterprise. "Supplying to LiveOnce Juicers gives me at least 60,000 Malawi Kwacha [US$ 82] a month."
A nutrition survey last year reported a sharp decline in Global Acute Malnutrition, showing that investments in nutrition are paying off. However, the rate of stunting remains high, at 37 percent. Even with the decline in undernutrition, continued efforts are needed to address vitamin and mineral deficiencies and stunting.
WFP is supporting the Government in Malawi to build sustainable systems to eradicate hunger and ensure better nutrition through a number of interventions. These target groups including children aged under-5, adolescents, pregnant and breastfeeding women and girls, and people with TB and HIV/AIDS.
WFP's nutrition programmes focus on the prevention of malnutrition with an emphasis on government and private sector capacity strengthening.