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Zambian breakfast cereal to aid health, farmers and conservation

By Kacey Culliney , 21-Nov-2012

The cereal comes in two sizes - 375g and 550g
The cereal comes in two sizes - 375g and 550g

A Zambian company has launched a fortified breakfast cereal; the profits of which will secure business for poverty-stricken farmers and aid conservation work in the Luangwa Valley.

The It’s Wild Multi-grain Cereal was formally launched last week by Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) – a firm dedicated to improving trade benefits for small-scale farmers and promoting improved land use practices and natural resource conservation in Zambia.

The cereal, based on rice, maize and soy, is fortified with fourteen vitamins and minerals, high in protein and low in fats and sodium.

COMACO worked on the cereal for two years, with General Mills working as its technical partner lending support and methodologies for production.

Dale Lewis, director of COMACO, told “We didn’t do this lightly. There was a lot of experimentation and trial runs.”

Plugging a health gap

“Every breakfast cereal on the shelf in Zambia is imported, and we don’t think particularly healthy. We wanted to show the stakeholders, government and consumers that this product is healthy,” Lewis said.

He said across Zambia’s urban areas there is a rising obesity problem and health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure are commonplace. The new breakfast cereal aims to play a part in tackling these issues, he said.

“We really hope this will be a commercial success but more a communication success,” he added.

Aiding the environment and farmers

“Essentially we are trying to promote food as part of a healthy diet and healthy environment. This last point however is not very clear to consumers,” Lewis said.

For this reason, he said, the back of the cereal box is dedicated to informative descriptions on COMACO’s efforts in transforming the livelihoods of farmers and protecting the environment.

The firm works with poverty-stricken farmers, operating through Conservation Trading Centers (CTCs) where it makes finished goods from surplus local commodities.

Manufacturing takes place outside the capital city of Lusaka – a strategic move by COMACO, Lewis said. “We like to take our manufacturing and decentralize it to help farmers see the value they can add to their crops.”

The cereal will be distributed to over forty major supermarkets across Zambia in the coming weeks.

Flavorsome future

The director said the company will work on launching a flavored variety of the cereal. “Following research, consumers indicated a preference for banana flavor, so this will be our next product. I feel pretty certain it will be launched within the next six months.”

He also added that COMACO remains open to future business proposals and potential franchise opportunities on a broader scale.

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