Navyn Salem manufactures success by helping to feed the world's hungry
Her nonprofit Edesia produces Plumpy'nut, a nutritious paste rich in calories and vitamins.
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Local production of Plumpy’nut in malnutrition hotspots does exactly that. The PlumpyField Network is a growing network of independent Plumpy’nut producers located primarily in developing countries: Hilina in Ethiopia, Societe de Transformation Alimentaire in Niger, JB in Madagascar, NutriVita in India, just to name a few.Skip to next paragraph
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These partners are contributing to the nutritional autonomy (the ability for countries and communities to meet their own nutritional needs) around the world. By producing these products locally they provide a market for local agriculture, provide jobs in their communities, and cut down on lead times and transportation costs.
How can organizations like Edesia work to address everyday food security issues like the 19 million children who suffer from severe acute malnutrition every year?
I think we are just one piece of a very complex puzzle when discussing food security. One of the ways we address the root cause of malnutrition is by creating jobs and handing out paychecks, not only to our employees in the factories in 12 developing countries but also [to] the farmers who provide us with the raw materials to make these products. It is a small contribution but an important one. It is a unique business model that allows these factories to overcome great challenges in very difficult-to-work countries like India and Sudan. We are proud to be part of this growing Plumpyfield Network that is headed by Nutriset.
How can organizations like Edesia broaden access to nutritional solutions?
We and other organizations like us need to continue to be innovative. Plumpy’nut is an amazing success story but we cannot stop there. There are more vulnerable populations and regions all over the world with varying needs that all need to be addressed. This issue is a constant work in progress.
You say in your reflection that “I wanted to do something in my backyard that got people back to work and have an impact on a global problem.” Can you expand on that by talking about how the media, policymakers, and nonprofits can do a better job of getting the average citizen to understand the impact that they have on global food crises?
There is huge need to better understand the impact one person can make, and I have faith in that fact. My own experience speaks to it. In our first year and a half of production, my small factory reached close to 600,000 children. That’s just from a small dedicated team in Rhode Island. Think of what we can all do if we take action.
[Donations] have been coming in come in small amounts but by thousands of people I don’t even know. This never ceases to amaze me and I am really thankful that there are so many supporters of the work we do all over the world. I think the fact that you can make such a measurable impact on a child is what draws people in to the work we do. You can literally see it.