Enhanced Food Aid Program Planned for 2018 Based on Study

November 21, 2017

USDBC has commissioned a study on food aid trends in an effort to find increased opportunities for U.S. dry beans as a critical part of food rations in ongoing and future U.S. food assistance programs. A first draft of the study looked at malnutrition and food security in five Sub Sharan African countries: Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, and Rwanda. All five countries suffer from high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition and all are long term recipients of food assistance from the U.S. and have consumed beans in the past or currently count beans as a dietary staple.

Food Aid Shipments

Food Aid Shipments by Country (total donor support); 2006 – 2016. Source: FAO

The initial draft report found that dry beans are important food crops and ideal for food aid due to their high protein and essential amino acid content, and the fact they are rich in complex carbohydrates, and dietary fiber. Compared to cereal crops most often used in food aid, beans have higher protein content typically 20-25% protein compared to 6-10% protein in major cereal crops. In terms of contribution to total protein consumed, Sub Saharan SSA Africa (SSA) ranks first in the world.

While a second draft of the report is in production, the initial draft offers a number of conclusions:

  • The need for food assistance will continue and possibly increase because of new emergencies.
  • In all likelihood, the US as the world’s major food producer, will continue to be a major food donor.
  • Beans are an ideal commodity for food assistance, but their use fluctuates greatly one year to the next.
  • USDA is commodity neutral and procures what the implementing organization requests.
  • Other U.S. commodity groups are very active in promoting their products with NGOs and UN /WFP.
    • Some fund joint activities with NGOs such as pilot projects or field testing in an effort to promote their products, e.g. ASA WISHH.
    • This builds personal relationships and increases familiarity with their products.
  • Consider exploring possibilities of joint ventures with NGOs/UN WFP to develop local capacity in developing countries to manufacture processed bean products, in part sourced locally and in part through food assistance and eventually direct commercial trade.
    • As populations around the world urbanize, the demand for more ready-to-eat food will grow, e.g. Rwanda.
  • Emergency food aid is a big bucket at USAID and will most likely increase due to the impacts of climate change (droughts, etc.), natural disasters, and armed conflict.
    • Consider collaboration with other entities to use beans as the key protein ingredient in specialized emergency food products. (e.g. pre-cooked and formulated with rice plus micronutrients for rapid cooking in refugee settings, maybe with dehydrated vegetables).

The final food aid report will be shared upon completion. USDBC will begin recruiting for a new Food Aid Consultant to assist with in country outreach and relationship building in early 2018.

Posted in: Bean Bulletin