UZWIL, SWITZERLAND — Africa Improved Foods (AIF) received an SDG Award from the Swiss Green Economy Symposium for sustainable consumption. Bühler supplied the factory, the process technology and know-how to AIF.

AIF Rwanda is a joint venture between the government of Rwanda, a consortium of various banks and the International Finance Corp., the private sector arm of the World Bank Group.

AIF applies a new approach to fight malnutrition in Africa, promoting local production by directly buying farmers’ yields of maize and soy against cash at competitive prices. While the company has become largely known for its world class nutrition products, including the commercial brands Nootri Mama, Nootri Toto and the latest Nootri Family (for all age groups), AIF mainly continues to produce porridge flours (with added milk, vitamins and minerals) targeting vulnerable population segments such as pregnant and breast-feeding mothers, older infants and young children for the critical first 1,000 days of their lives.

 “We were impressed by the way in which Africa Improved Foods combines its social commitment with the successful networking of public and private players,” said Anne le Duc, chief executive officer of SGES, upon announcing the first award-winner.

“With our economic development model, we can make a strong and sustainable social impact on our entire environment, and this in a sustainable way,” said Amar Ali, CEO of Africa Improved Foods.

On May 31, 2017, AIF opened its facility in the Rwandan capital city of Kigali, where it produces an annual output of 45,000 tonnes of fortified blended foods. Its first two products are porridge flours with added milk powder, vitamins, and minerals. The factory employs over 300 staff and also offers 24,000 Rwandan farmers a stable, sustainable income for a proportion of their harvest.

The factory recently celebrated its first anniversary and will soon have the capacity to feed 2 million people and be able to reduce stunting in Rwanda from 38% to 32% by 2020 — a 6% reduction — bringing hope to tens of thousands of children.

 DSM, the majority shareholder and initiator of AIF, continues to work on innovation that addresses the needs of customers and key societal challenges: Nutrition and health, climate and energy, and resources and circularity.

AIF focuses on local resources, local production and local high-quality products.

“The great thing about this model is that it engages the wider community in the process of creating these impacts — which not only makes it progressive but also sustainable in the long run,” said Nelleke Barning, global director communications and external affairs nutrition, who received the award on behalf of DSM and AIF.

 Bühler has been collaborating for years with DSM and has developed, built, and started up the factory and production processes of AIF.

The public-private joint venture officially opened the 60-million-franc facility in May 2017, but has been producing enriched grain flakes since the end of 2016.

“We chose Bühler because we wanted a reputable company that knows how to build in Africa and quite generally under adverse conditions without compromising on quality and that will be with us through all the challenges,” Ali said. “There have been many challenges, and Bühler has been there as a partner throughout.”

He said it was not easy to find people to run the plant.

“Bühler also supported us in this respect, training our people on their equipment in Nairobi,” Ali said.

Bühler operates the African Milling School in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, which offers grain milling training courses ranging from the apprenticeship level up to a master miller’s degree.

“It is only thanks to our strong presence in Africa that we were able to firmly establish our technology and knowhow at the local level — in the region, for the region,” said Theodor Sutter, who in his capacity as key account manager has coached AIF throughout its development from its beginnings to today.