Food tech solutions to lower malnutrition and provide rural employment
A group of people eating.

Malnutrition Matters (MM) is a social enterprise founded in 2000 with the mission to help alleviate malnutrition and unemployment among the most needy in the world through small-scale technology solutions enabling local processing of nutritious food.

 

MM’s established technologies include:

  1. VitaGoat, a a non-electric food-processing system that enables rural micro-enterprises to efficiently produce protein-rich soymilk, soy yogurt, tofu and other foods from locally available legumes, grains and nuts;
  2. SoyCow, a similar system which requires electricity; (iii) SolarFlex Dryer, a solar food dryer that can dry about 20 kilograms of fruit or vegetables per day; and
  3. PedalPro, a multi-function pedal-driven workstation that can grind food, charge a 12V battery, pump water and sharpen tools and knives.
Malnutrition: A Worldwide Problem

 

MM has installed over 170 of its proprietary systems in 30 countries on four continents, providing a daily protein-rich nutrition supplement to over 100,000 beneficiaries, most of whom are located in rural areas and suffer from malnutrition. The map above reflects the countries where MM has installed systems as well as those where it plans to install additional systems.

 

The visualization above also shows the available malnutrition rates in children from 1975 until 2011 (percentage of children under age five whose weight for age is more than two standard deviations below the median for the international reference population ages 0-59 months) in the countries where MM has installed or plans to install its systems. Among these countries, the malnutrition rate ranges between 3.4% (Colombia) and 43.5% (India). The countries with most severe malnutrition rates are Burundi (35.20%, 2005 data), Bangladesh (41.30%, 2007 data), and India (43.5%, 2006 data).

A viable and scalable alternative to reduce malnutrition

Malnutrition Matters

 MM finds that the fundamental failure of the market is the lack of local processing of local produce to dramatically improve nutrition in rural areas. MM believes that the most sustainable and achievable solution, both economically and nutritionally, is increased human consumption of legumes, including soybeans, and accompanying micro-nutrient fortification of soy foods and/or other food. Other opportunities to lower malnutrition and increase food security include preservation of perishable local produce when it is in glut, such as mangoes and tomatoes. These are the solutions provided by MM’s systems.
MM’s installations have averaged 30 per year in the last three years. With enhanced funding and additional partners, that level could be increased many fold. MM is highly scalable:

  1. the systems can operate either in primitive rural environments (no electricity or running water, very poor roads) or in urban or peri-urban environments with partial or fully electric operation,
  2. each system can serve 1,000 beneficiaries,
  3. the technology is robust and basic, allowing infrequent repair by basic mechanics.

 

Significant potential for additional sustainable systems has already been identified by MM in several regions.