AfricaRice setup a living lab to contribute to a healthy and nutritious diet in Côte d'Ivoire
Following the inception workshop of the HealthyDiets4Africa project that took place in Germany in March 2023, AfricaRice and its partners gathered at Mbe, Bouake, to set up the first living lab of Côte d’Ivoire.
The meeting brought together more than fifty participants, including CERFAM (Centre d'Excellence Régional contre la Faim et la Malnutrition), OIC-CI, ESST (Entreprise en Santé et Sécurité au Travail), CIAT, school feeding program managers, nutritionists, representatives of the ministry of youth & employment, representatives of fruit and vegetable traders, representatives of fruit and vegetable merchants, representatives of fish farmers, rice farmers, market gardeners, representatives of banking and micro finance institutions, as well as members of the media agencies.
The 3-day gathering enabled participants to work together, make a SWOT analysis of the food system in the region, develop key priority areas that will need immediate actions, and identify the interventions to undertake in order to set up the living lab and achieve a healthy, diversified, and nutritious diet.
In his presentation, Dr Sali Atanga Ndindeng, Project Coordinator and Head of the Rice Sector Development program at AfricaRice, explained the importance of the "Healthy Diet for Africa" project: "this project aims to improve the processing of nutritious foods by promoting innovations that encourage the production, processing, marketing and consumption of healthy nutritious foods. We assess the diversity of the different foods we produce, and we examine their link with health. We also promote some innovations that we have developed to help reduce certain diseases caused by poor diet."
The 'Living Lab' is a platform where the project partners will be able to put together all their constructive proposals for the well-being of consumers. Hence the importance of the involvement and participation of all stakeholders at the very beginning of the setup of this platform.
Dr Arouna Aminou, representing the Director General of AfricaRice, explained that the project is using the nutritional food safety method which ensures the hygiene of the product to be consumed, as well as its nutritional value. To this end, he presented how AfricaRice is committed to food diversity by using rice-fish cropping as an example.
Moving towards food transformation and working with all the actors in the value chain is crucial to establish food system that contribute to a healthy diet. The living lab presents several benefits:
It is an open, iterative, and user-centered innovation ecosystem.
It is a research concept that operates in a territorial context, such as a city, a conurbation, a region, or a campus.
It integrates simultaneous research and innovation processes within a public-private-people partnership.
The main objective of the living lab is to create new products and infrastructures adapted to the needs of society and the territory.
It offers spaces to develop and test technological prototypes that seek to improve the lives of citizens.
Cote d’Ivoire Living Laboratory for Healthy Food aims to improve the production, the marketing, and the consumption of healthy food through diversification of the food system. The initiative was welcomed by the various participants, and they committed to play their parts in establishing the living lab and make it a living instrument that will reinforce their collaboration and bring a positive change in the life of the populations.
Few actions points and lead roles resulted from the meeting and included (i) research on food diversity matrices (University of Heidelberg) ; (ii) food environment research (Biodiversity-CIAT); (iii) innovations in diversified food systems, including training (AfricaRice) (iv); Innovations in food processing and marketing, including training (AfricaRice) ; (v) Youth in nutritious diet agro-enterprises (OCI-CI) ; (vi) company canteen training and assimilation (ESST) ; (vii) policy and communication (CERFAM).
As a reminder, the Healthy Diets 4 Africa project seeks to combat malnutrition in Africa through the diversification of the food system while minimizing its environmental footprint. It is funded by the European Union and piloted in West, Central and East Africa in 8 countries: Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda and Kenya.
View below media articles about the living lab:
Business 24 TV News
Le monde agricole