Mars has partnered with United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to improve the provision of safe, locally-sourced food in Africa.
The two-year partnership between the food manufacturer and the humanitarian agency will include the establishment of new food safety guidelines for local suppliers to improve the availability of safe foods for those in need.
WFP buys more than two million tonnes of food every year and at least three quarters of it comes from developing countries. Its policy is to buy food as close as possible to where it is needed, to help sustain local economies and save time and money.
Food safety standards in-country often require improvement, local farmers need guidance on procedures and food safety is a priority.
Mars will provide technical expertise on the food safety processes of WFP, and will fund the hire of a Nairobi-based food safety expert at WFP, who will work with local suppliers to improve the procurement of food products. Mars will also help provide workshops, the auditing of suppliers and lab analyses.
Jay Aldous, WFP’s director of private partnerships said that the collaboration would strengthen its supply chain management and further efforts to achieve zero hunger. Dave Crean, vice president, corporate research and development, at Mars, said that food safety remained a huge global challenge.
“Unsafe food has serious consequences for health, but it can also lead to loss of supply chains and cripple economies by preventing countries from being able to meet import standards in developed markets,” he said.
“Aflatoxin, a common naturally occurring fungal toxin, negatively impacts the health of millions of people every year and is a particularly difficult challenge in Africa.”
Mars is also planning to support the African Union Commission-based Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) to help African farmers control aflatoxin in food crops such as peanuts and maize to help reduce its impact on women's health and stunted development among children.