Every year, more than three million children under 5 years old die as a result of severe acute malnutrition (SAM), making it the largest killer of young children. In developing countries, including sub-Saharan African countries, Uganda, Malawi and Haiti, malnutrition is a severe issue that pediatricians and scientists are looking for a simple way to solve. Some of these ideas are successfully showing how peanut butter and peanuts reduce poverty and save lives.
Malnutrition starts in the womb. Therefore, scientists intend to stop malnutrition and anemia in young mothers hoping to give their babies a more nutritional start to life. In Malawi, roughly 50% of all pregnant women and nearly a third of nursing mothers are anemic and in need of a higher calorie diet that can start with peanut butter.
The Power in a Peanut
Peanuts contain more plant protein per ounce than any other nut, making it a powerhouse for nutrition. Only one ounce of peanuts reduces malnutrition by providing an adequate source of niacin and magnesium. Peanut butter is also a good source of fiber and contains other essential nutrients. The nutritional value in peanut butter creates better nutritional and health outcomes, necessitating fewer hospital visits for young children.
Peanuts also contain healthy oils that are “trans-fat-free, cholesterol-free and low in saturated fats.” As a high caloric nut and an impressive source of nutrients, peanuts reduce poverty because the nut addresses malnutrition in malnourished children and young mothers, helping them to gain weight and maintain a balanced diet.
Peanut Butter With a Punch
Peanut butter alone is a good source of nutrition and calories but scientists working to eradicate malnourishment have amped up the standard peanut butter recipes to cater to undernourished bodies.
The most talked-about of these miracle nutritional products is Plumpy’Nut, a nutritional, protein-packed peanut-based paste. Plumpy’Nut comes in portioned plastic wraps that are easy to store and easy to open, making it a resilient food for unstable conditions. Unlike some other ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF), one does not need to mix Plumpy’Nut with water, cutting down the risk of spreading disease.
Nourimamba is a similar peanut-based product that includes extra protein. Packaged in jars, hospitals mostly use Nourimamba to treat severely malnourished children. These jars of sweetened paste also end up in schools as snacks for children.
Dr. Mark Manary founded Project Peanut Butter, an organization in Malawi that helps to feed malnourished children in Sierra Leone, Malawi and Ghana. The organization uses a locally sourced, protein-rich and high caloric peanut butter known as “chiponde” to treat severe malnutrition.
While peanut butter is already a nutritious food, these pastes pack a greater punch in the fight against malnutrition. These products have a long shelf life and require no preparation, making them the ideal snack for undernourished individuals.
Positive Impacts on Poverty
Getting peanut butter into hungry stomachs is the top priority, but in the process, the nut helps uplift developing nations. In addition to addressing malnutrition, these peanut butter products create jobs that can break the cyclical poverty malnourished children are born into.
The Mwayi Wathu Peanut Butter Processing Group, supported by Oxfam and the Catholic Development Commission of Malawi (CADECOM), produces peanuts and peanut butter. This cooperative addresses malnutrition with its products while creating local jobs to stimulate the economy.
Peanuts Reduce Poverty
W. K. Kellogg graciously funded Accesso’s nutritional snack program, which aimed to feed 11 schools in central Haiti. As a result of this initiative, enrollment at the schools increased by 20%. The jobs that the program created allow parents to send their children to school. These families were unable to afford educational endeavors before.
Accesso works with 7,400 local farmers and has tripled the profits of farmers through its agribusiness model. Through this model, farmers strengthened their income and the organization can provide nutritional peanut snacks to more than 4,000 children every single day.
Part of this improved agribusiness model is the spicy peanut butter, Lavi, which holds the promise of opening up new markets for these developing nations. Accesso, the organization that championed the creation of Lavi, aims to expand its business to global markets, especially the United States, where demand for peanuts is high. As the most commonly enjoyed nut by U.S. citizens, more than two-thirds of all nut consumption in the U.S. is peanuts, making it a powerhouse in helping foreign farmers increase their incomes and rise out of poverty.
The benefits of nutritious peanut butter products show how peanuts reduce poverty in developing countries, tackling several concerns at once.
– Veronica Booth