International School Meals Day is an annual moment to celebrate  innovative and sustainable approaches to school nutrition. Through a strategic partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, AGRA is proud to have spearheaded an ambitious initiative aimed at upscaling the consumption of biofortified foods in schools.

The “Advancing Availability of Biofortified Foods for Institutional Markets” program, spanning three years from 2022-2025, targets the delivery of iron-rich beans and Vitamin A maize to school feeding programs in Kenya, Malawi, and Tanzania, benefiting approximately 1.2 million school children.

John Macharia, Country Director Kenya, AGRA, underscores the organization’s commitment to enhancing food security and nutrition across Africa. “Biofortification is a cost-effective and sustainable approach to addressing malnutrition,” explains John Macharia. “By naturally enriching crops with essential nutrients, we ensure long-term benefits for both producers and consumers.”

Together with partners such as Harvest Plus, seed firms, research institutes, extension agents, and non-governmental organizations, this program has mapped 571 Tanzanian schools, 120 Malawian schools, and 150 Kenyan schools, totaling 1,269,000 students. During the first year of operation, the Tanzanian government pledged to include beans in the national grain reserve’s strategy. 150 schools in Kenya were identified, working in collaboration with the county administrations and National Council for Nomadic Education in Kenya (NACONEK). The Malawian government took the lead in promoting the school feeding program.

Prof. Joachim von Braun, a leading voice in agricultural economics and policy, Chair of the Programs Committee, AGRA and Vice Chair of the Board of Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN),  emphasizes the significance of this initiative: “AGRA’s collaborative efforts with governments, seed companies, research institutions, and NGOs have laid the groundwork for a sustainable supply chain of biofortified crops,” he states. “These efforts are crucial in institutionalizing biofortified food in school feeding programs and increasing bean production and consumption across Africa.”

AGRA’s program has already demonstrated tangible results. Over 758.8 metric tons of biofortified seed have been produced and distributed across the three target countries. Additionally, 16 seed companies have been supported to produce certified seed varieties, ensuring a robust ecosystem for the reliable delivery of nutritious food to school children. 

As we commemorate International School Meals Day under the theme of “innovation in school meals: new routes to sustainable nutrition,” let us remember the critical role of biofortified foods in promoting a brighter future for our children,” inspires Macharia. “Together, we can inspire more schools and children to embrace and enjoy the benefits of nutritious meals, starting with incorporating more beans on the menu,” she adds.

Beans is How, mobilized by the SDG2 Advocacy Hub with a Coalition of over 95 partners, invites global stakeholders to explore new avenues for sustainable nutrition by encouraging dietary shifts towards more beans. AGRA is a proud partner of the Coalition, with AGRA’s President, Agnes Kalibata serving as a Bean Champion. Growing, cooking, and consuming more beans can pave the way for a brighter and healthier future for all. Together, we invite stakeholders to join the Bean Revolution. 


About AGRA

Founded in 2006, AGRA, is an African-led African-based organization that seeks to catalyze agriculture transformation in Africa. AGRA is focused on putting smallholder farmers at the center of the continent’s growing economy by transforming agriculture from a solitary struggle to survive into farming as a business that thrives. As the sector that employs the majority of Africa’s people, nearly all of them small-scale farmers, AGRA recognizes that developing smallholder agriculture into a productive, efficient, and sustainable system is essential to ensuring food security, lifting millions out of poverty, and driving equitable growth across the continent.

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