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Ministry of Agriculture to sign Public Private Partnership with Fyffes for banana flour porridge for school feeding program

Posted: Tuesday, November 14, 2023. 2:22 pm CST.

Photo Credit: MAFSE’s Agroprocessing Unit

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: On Wednesday, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE) will sign a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Fyffes to produce a banana flour porridge for a school feeding program in Bella Vista, Toledo.

Back in November 2021, Fyffes, the Ministry of Agriculture (Agroprocessing Unit), the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the Instituto de Nutrición de Centro América y Panamá (INCAP), and the Our Lady of Bella Vista School signed an initial Memorandum of Understanding for a school-based pilot program that used bananas to provide nutritious meals to the school’s children.

“Building on the success of the second phase of the program, which ran from January 1st to May 15th, 2023, Fyffes, in collaboration with the Agro-processing unit, will continue producing a banana flour product made from local bananas,” MAFSE said.

“This nutrient-rich supplement will be distributed by Fyffes to local communities, contributing to the sustained improvement of the nutritional status of school-age children.”

MAFSE’s Agroprocessing Coordinator Earvin Gentle said Fyffes will provide the Agroprocessing Unit, over the course of two years for the duration of the programme, the raw material and all ingredients to make the porridge, similar but not the same as gungude, a banana porridge that uses coconut milk. Gentle said Fyffes developed the formula of the nutritional food supplement.

According to Gentle, Fyffes will also acquire machinery, namely a pulverizer, for the Agroprocessing Unit and provide maintenance. A pulverizer is used to mill the product, in this case the bananas, from a dehydrated state to powder form.

Gentle said the Agroprocessing Unit will produce the flour and then mix it with sugar, powdered milk, cinnamon, and vanilla to flavour it. Fyffes will then give the porridge to the school children in Bella Vista. The company will collect weight and height data over a period of time to determine if there are increases and if those are correlated to the consumption of the banana flour supplement.

When the programme started in November 2021, MAFSE said the project had the objective of offering a well-balanced nutrient supplement to at-risk groups in Belize and that it was expected to “yield many positive benefits to both children by improving their health and the attendance and grades in school”.

“Malnutrition mainly in the form of stunting and underweight has been documented in high prevalence rates within Stann Creek and Toledo districts which are neighborhood communities to the Fyffes farms in Belize,” MAFSE said.

In 2021, MAFSE said that if the school feeding program base piloted in Bella Vista were successful, it would be extended to other schools.

Bella Vista is a village in the banana belt near Independence with a population that surpasses 3,500 inhabitants.


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