Tanzanian nutritionist and food entrepreneur wins international Food Tech award

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Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a Swiss-based charity working to improve global nutrition by promoting healthier diets to vulnerable communities awarded Jolenta Joseph, 29, a cash prize of US$10,000 and a prestigious mentorship award dubbed the Food Technology Innovation Prize.

“This is really good news to us…We are aiming to end ‘hidden’ hunger in Tanzania, and this means growth for us,” said Jolenta, whose company, Sanavita, uses solar dryers to process nutrient-dense crops – notably orange-fleshed sweet potatoes – into various edible products.

Hidden hunger, involving a lack of vitamins and minerals, occurs when the quality of food people eat does not meet their nutrient requirements, according to the World Health Organization.

Organized by the Sun Business Network, a global platform for business and nutrition, 21 finalists including Jolenta were picked through a rigorous selection process that attracted 500 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) from across Africa and Asia.

Sanavita – which is working to fight malnutrition, particularly ‘hidden’ hunger – has also been recognized and awarded a mentorship prize by Agricultural Systems International (AGREA) for showcasing innovative creativity for its ability to produce, add value and process staple crops rich in micronutrients.

“What I like about Sanavita is their use of solar dryers. This preserves the nutrients of the product. So this is pretty exciting and innovative,” said Cherrie Atilano, one of the judges, who is also the CEO of AGREA, an innovative agribusiness company striving to eradicate poverty.

Jolenta is working to promote healthy eating among groups susceptible to malnutrition, especially pregnant women, lactating mothers and underage children.

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