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Press Releases

May 31, 2012

USAID, JICA and Ajinomoto Signed Memorandum of Understanding on Weaning Child Nutrition Improvement in Ghana
–First Overseas Nutrition Improvement Project in cooperation between the Governments of the United States and Japan and the Private Sector–

On May 30, 2012, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Ajinomoto Co., Inc. (Ajinomoto) signed a memorandum in Accra, the capital of Ghana, confirming collaborative efforts to increase the nutritional well-being of children during the weaning period. The signing of the Memorandum for Collaboration is a historic moment between the Governments of Japan and the United States, as it marks the first time that the Japanese and American Governments have come together with the private sector to improve nutritional status.

This will be the first time for a Japanese company to work collaboratively on the basis of a Global Development Alliance (GDA) scheme with USAID. This is also the first time a memorandum on a public-private partnership has been signed by all three parties, including JICA. This partnership between Japan, JICA, and USAID, which will utilize their combined expertise, will be a platform on which to build future public-private sector activities across numerous stakeholders on nutrition in Ghana.

The MOU outlines the three components:

  1. Ajinomoto, in collaboration with a local food company and the University of Ghana, will produce samples of "Koko Plus." Koko Plus is a nutritional supplement that should be added to the traditional porridge made of fermented corn (called koko). The base of Koko Plus is locally produced soybeans, but it is fortified with vitamins and an essential amino acid (Lysine) to improve the nutritional value of the food for children. Ajinomoto will provide funding to test a community-based 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 the distribution of Koko Plus. USAID will also spearhead efforts to evaluate the model and offer 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).

Notes to the editors: 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 is an initiative established by USAID in which cooperation with the private sector is used 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 a U.S. 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 the tripartite collaboration comes at a fortuitous time. The G8 recently met in Washington, DC and provided follow up to the G8 meeting held in L'Aquila where member countries pledged to focus on the global supply of food. The G8 meeting at Camp David highlighted the need to increase food security and nutrition in Africa using the private sector as the engine in creating economic growth. The President of Ghana, along with three other African leaders, was a keynote speaker; he indicated that the four African heads affirmed their commitment to making food security their number one priority in private meetings with the G8. Further, the partnership is also closely aligned with the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, which is a global effort to improve nutritional status among children under two and pregnant women. Ghana was one of the first countries to sign onto the SUN movement, which is being spearheaded by Ghana Health Services with close cooperation from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and a wide variety of stakeholders and donors.

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