Thursday, September 01, 2011

Success Story: Navyn Salem and Plumpy'Nut

One of the greatest advancements in curing and preventing malnutrition in both children and adults goes by the name of Plumpy'Nut--a ready-to-eat concoction that combines peanut butter, powdered milk, sugar, minerals, and vitamins. Children on the brink of death from malnutrition have bounced back after consuming this wonder food product.

Plumpy'nut's history began back in 2009 when Navyn Salem founded Edesia in Providence, Rhode Island. Salem wanted to create a company that could create jobs and improve economies, as well as contribute to the malnutrition problem rampant in many parts of the world. The development of Edesia came during a time when USAID was looking for US non-profits that could produce ready-to-use foods that could address malnutrition problems.

Edesia focused on producing a product that could address the entire range of malnutrition that also can be made with locally grown raw materials. Since 2009 , 15 million pounds of Plumpy'Nut products have been produced for big and small organizations. In malnutrition hotspots like India, Niger, and Ethiopia, independent, local Plumpy'Nut manufacturers have developed, helping to encourage the country's nutritional autonomy.

Salem said that the biggest obstacle she has had to overcome is funding issues. "We know that every year there is significant need for products like Plumpy’nut, and that it is cheaper to respond sooner. But we “wait around” until there is a crisis. By then it is already too late for so many," she said.

Call your congressional leaders and encourage them to start increasing funds so that organizations like Edesia can continue to make products that can pull children out of malnutrition status.

"There is a 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 600,00 children. That's from just a small dedicated team in Rhode Island. Think of what we can all do if we take action, " said Salem.

-Chelsey Dambro