Improving health and nutrition for 2.5 million farmers

 Unilever and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), have created a global Nutrition Intervention Programme to help improve the health and nutrition of 2.5 million people in rural communities.

Working together for a brighter future

Unilever and GAIN signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to tackle malnutrition among farmers and their families in rural communities by improving their diets.

Over time the Nutrition Intervention Programme will aim to reach all of Unilever’s 800,000 smallholder farmers and their families, with a specific focus on female farmers, pregnant women and young children. It will also contribute to improving health through handwashing, based on Unilever’s successful Lifebuoy model.

The first programmes will be launched in India to improve the nutrition and health of more than 20,000 farming families (100,000 people) in Unilever´s food business supply chain. Interventions will include better information on nutritious diets, increased access to vegetables and livestock and planting nutrient-rich trees and plants in between planting cycles.

Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Unilever, says: “There is a business argument as well as a moral case for this. Working with our smallholder farmers to ensure that they and their families stay healthy through good nutrition and hygiene drives economic development and helps us to meet our goals on sustainable and profitable growth.” 

Why invest in nutrition?

The 2014 Global Nutrition Report found that investing in nutrition is key to development efforts related to food, poverty, health, gender and employment. For every $1 spent on nutrition at least $16 will be returned in economic benefits. The effects are inter-generational – well-nourished children are more able to reach their full cognitive and physical potential and to raise healthy families, helping to secure healthy future generations.

Rural communities are particularly affected by insecure food supplies, with women and children suffering the most from malnutrition. Childhood stunting is higher in rural areas than in urban areas due to the lack of availability of nutritious foods, particularly during lean seasons.

Marc Van Ameringen, Executive Director, GAIN says: “Despite producing the majority of the world’s food, smallholder farmers and their families face some of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world. Investing in nutrition through supply chains improves the living conditions of farmers and their families, the impact of which is felt throughout entire communities.”

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