The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Ajinomoto Co. Inc. (Ajinomoto) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Accra, about joint efforts to increase the nutritional well-being of children during the weaning period.
This first partnership between Ajinomoto, JICA, and USAID will utilize their combined expertise and will serve as a platform on which to build future public-private sector activities across numerous stakeholders on nutrition in Ghana.
It will be the first time a Japanese company will work collaboratively under a Global Development Alliance (GDA) scheme with USAID.
The MOU outlines three core components:
1) Ajinomoto in collaboration with a local food company and University of Ghana will produce samples of "Koko Plus," a soybean-based nutritional supplement.
It is fortified with vitamins and an essential amino acid (Lysine), which increases the body's ability to better absorb nutrients from food, and is added to koko, a traditional porridge made of fermented corn.
Ajinomoto will provide funding to test a public sector distribution model and evaluate its effectiveness in improving the nutritional status of children.
2) USAID will provide funding and technical expertise to implement a private sector approach to distribution of Koko Plus.
USAID will also spearhead efforts to evaluate the model and expertise to conduct a study to establish a distribution model for promoting and increasing the usage of the nutritional supplement.
3) JICA will provide on-going assistance to develop a business model and a business plan for Ajinomoto's nutritional supplements in Ghana through the Preparatory Survey for Base of the Pyramid (BoP) Business Promotion (from March 2011 to March 2014).
The financial and technical assistance from USAID is being provided in accordance with the Global Development Alliance (GDA), a public-private partnership scheme.
The GDA, established by USAID, fosters cooperation with the private sector in order to implement projects for socioeconomic improvement with joint funding and technical expertise.
In 2009, Ajinomoto began developing supplements for nutritional improvement for weaning children in cooperation with the University of Ghana and US non-profit organization, the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.
Ajinomoto has also been collaborating with DSM, a Dutch based top producer of vitamins in the development of "Koko Plus."
The launch of this tri-partite collaboration has come at a time when the recent G8 meeting at Camp David highlighted the need to increase food security and nutrition in Africa using the private sector as the engine to create economic growth.
President Mills indicated that the private meetings held between the G8 by the four African heads affirmed their commitment to make food security their number one priority.
This partnership is also closely aligned with the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, a global effort to improve nutritional status among children under two and pregnant women.
Ghana was one of the first countries to sign on to the SUN movement, which is being spearheaded by Ghana Health Services with close cooperation with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and a wide variety of stakeholders and donors in Ghana.