Food and nutrition are key priorities for Rwanda’s plans for economic development and poverty reduction. The recent pro-nutrition policies adopted by the government further stress the commitment to this theme. These endeavors have enabled the country to attain several achievements that have improved the status of nutrition and household food security. The Food and Nutrition policies and other government-led interventions such as the Comprehensive Nutrition School Feeding Policy and the Strategy for National Social Behavior Change Communication have -for instance- led to a 50% reduction in chronic undernutrition.
Overall, tackling malnutrition, improving diet quality, and availability and access of highly nutritious and healthy foods to markets will require a mobilization of different actors operating in the Rwanda food systems and active in the nutrition sub-system space. Actions such as market-based interventions to reduce the prices of nutritious food and increase their affordability should be the focus of future policies and program interventions. Fortification of complementary foods and staple foods with micronutrients are certainly promising activities to explore to improve the availability and affordability of micronutrients (i.e iron supplementation and iron or zinc fortification or biofortification).
The Rwandan government is creating a conducive nutrition and food space, opening up opportunities for emerging and well-established businesses to thrive. Increasing the promotion and production of protein-rich crops could also potentially improve affordability and access to nutritious food. Often households already produce healthy nutritious agricultural products (i.e dark green leafy vegetables and pulses) yet these latter are often sold and not retained for consumption. Awareness-raising campaigns on the importance of nutritious foods among farming communities could potentially create more space to bolster the consumption of nutritious foods, especially in rural areas. Moreover, leveraging science and modern technologies that enhance food nutrient content is a promising opportunity for businesses dealing with the processing, storage, and preservation of nutritious foods.
Arguably, fruit and vegetables (F&V) and livestock sectors can also enhance national nutritional outcomes. Local demand for F&V is expected to rise in response to increasing demographic pressure. As the current production is unlikely to meet the growing projected demand such a trend offers incredible opportunities to businesses operating in the production and supply of fresh vegetables. A similar trend is forecasted for the dairy sector.
Call to food systems leaders
Achieving improved nutrition for all will require a systemic and multifaceted approach. Reconciling the apparent contradiction between Rwanda’s agricultural potential and malnutrition is desperately needed. Reconfiguring Rwanda’s food systems, both spatially and structurally, to ensure more equitable distribution of and access to nutritious food undoubtedly requires systems leadership. If you belong to any of the communities below you would greatly benefit from our Food Systems Leadership Programme:
- Public health nutrition
- Horticulture community (whole supply chain)
- Fortification community
- Food Marketing
- Consumer groups
- Finance for innovation
- Food Technology
- Journalists / online thought leaders / activists
Food, Tech & Trade
The African Food Fellowship is looking for creative ways to stimulate the mid-stream sector of agri-business that will contribute to a fair and competitive agricultural sector in Rwanda.
Access to Nutritious Foods
Recognising the importance of a diverse and healthy diet, we acknowledge Rwanda’s potential to transform its horticulture and livestock sectors for improved socio- economic outcomes.
Sustainable Land Use
We are looking for Rwandan food system leaders to develop and implement sustainable strategies to feed the growing population while preserving the environment.