70 participants including high officials from both Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health attended the Nestlé workshop that was organised in view of communicating to all stakeholders the results of its pilot rice project named “Voly Vary pour une alimentation saine”. In October 2012, several varieties of rice naturally enriched in iron and zinc were introduced in Anjepy, a small locality in the District of Manjakandriana which is situated 40 km away from Antananarivo. 16 farmers participated in the trials. The various partners on this project included the National Centre for Applied Research in Rural Development, FOFIFA, the Nestlé Research Centre in Abidjan, the Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa and the National Institute of Community and Public Health (INSPC).
“The diet of the Malagasy has been found to be lacking in iron and zinc in general. Any occurrence of malnutrition during pregnancy and the first two years of childhood affect the health of the mother and her child," said Professor Roger Andrianasolo, Chief Public Health Nutritionist with the Ministry of Health and Vice-President of the Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa.
“The varieties of NERICA chosen for this project were obtained from Africa Rice and FOFIFA and selection was made after analysing their nutritional characteristics" said Philippe Courbet, agronomist at the Nestlé Research Centre in Abidjan.
Picture 1: Our Agronomist, Mr. Andry Jeda Tsiafaradia from Nestlé Madagascar, posing next to the Rice display and explaining the features of the rice paddies harvested
The objective of the pilot project which was to identify and disseminate rice varieties with high nutritional value and good agro-ecological adaptations was achieved. The harvest turned out to be good with a total of 200 kg of rice produced from 9 biofortified varieties on a total experimental area of 1,792 Sq. metres. Farmers have also started to mobilize to be part of the project in the next phase. Eventually, we are hoping that the project should develop to reach a larger sample size in the region of Anjepy and see later at the national level.
Mr. Luigi Peccini from Nestlé also expressed his enthusiasm for this project and he added: "To create long-term value for our shareholders, we must create value for the society, a concept known as ‘Creating Shared Value’. For us, the areas of interest in creating value for the society are Nutrition, Water and Rural Development and the rice project in Madagascar covers both the nutrition and rural development aspects. These activities are at the heart of our business strategy and are vital to the well-being of the population in the countries where we operate.”
Picture 2: Mr. Luigi Peccini addressing the journalists at the press conference; on his left we have Professor Roger Andrianasolo, Chief Public Health Nutritionist with the Ministry of Health and Vice-President of the Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa
Overall, the "Voly Vary" project can be viewed as a medium and long term investment. Firstly, we can act on improving rice productivity with the introduction of new and better varieties. Secondly, the qualitative enhancement of rice in the near future should contribute to add to the nutritional value of the staple food of the Malagasy people as a means to reduce micronutrient deficiencies.
A field visit was organised in Anjepy in the afternoon on that same day for the key participants from Nestlé and Ministries of Health and Agriculture. The farmers who took part in the trials were very happy to share their experience on the cultivation of the new varieties.
Picture 3: A Signage communicating about the Nestlé pilot rice project was erected inside the small village of Anjepy in the area where the experimental rice plots can be found.
Picture 4 : Visit to the experimental rice plots in Anjepy