Promoting Locally Fortified Sunflower Oil Using E-Vouchers (CIFSRF Phase 2)
Tanzania, along with most African countries, has been struggling to address persistent nutritional challenges, including vitamin A and iron deficiencies. This project proposes to implement emerging technologies to improve the vitamin A status of women and children in two regions of the country: Manyara and Shinyanga. Food vouchers and fortified oil The Mennonite Economic Development Associates, through their Canadian headquarters and country office in Tanzania, will work with Tanzania's Sokoine University of Agriculture to implement the project. They will use fortified crude sunflower oil and electronic vouchers as tools to improve women's and children's health. How fortified foods and vouchers can help The Government of Tanzania announced plans to expand foods fortified with micronutrients as one of the measures to reduce micronutrient deficiencies. The project team's recent work suggests that crude sunflower oil maintains shelf life for more than 70 days when fortified with vitamin A. The project will verify shelf life findings. It will also build a sustainable business model to fortify oil at the local small- and medium-enterprise level. This will be done through an innovative electronic voucher system developed in Canada. The vouchers, transmitted through cell phone text messages, will deliver subsidies to vulnerable groups. They will target lactating mothers, while jumpstarting demand for fortified oil. Findings to improve health outcomes During the course of the project, subsidies will be systematically withdrawn to observe producers' and retailers' ability to sustain sales at market prices. The research team will track nutritional impacts through vitamin A status measurements. The project will provide evidence to support the private sector's potential to contribute to a well-nourished, food-secure society by providing sustainable access to vitamin A-fortified sunflower oil in rural Tanzania. It will also test whether electronic vouchers can promote fortified oil consumption, and whether that oil can reduce micronutrient deficiencies.