USAID, JICA and Ajinomoto Collaborate to Improve Child Nutrition in Ghana

First Overseas Nutrition Improvement Project in cooperation between the Governments of the United States and Japan and the Private Sector

On May 30, 2012, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Ajinomoto Co. Inc. (Ajinomoto) signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Accra, about joint efforts to increase the nutritional well-being of children during the weaning period. This first partnership between Ajinomoto, JICA, and USAID will utilize their combined expertise and will serve as a platform on which to build future public-private sector activities across numerous stakeholders on nutrition in Ghana. It will be the first time a Japanese company will work collaboratively under a Global Development Alliance (GDA) scheme with USAID.

The MOU outlines three core components:
1) Ajinomoto in collaboration with a local food company and University of Ghana will produce samples of “Koko Plus,” a soybean-based nutritional supplement. "Koko Plus" is fortified with vitamins and an essential amino acid (Lysine), which increases the body's ability to better absorb nutrients from food, and is added to koko, a traditional porridge made of fermented corn. Ajinomoto will provide funding to test a public sector distribution model and evaluate its effectiveness in improving the nutritional status of children.

2) USAID will provide funding and technical expertise to implement a private sector approach to distribution of Koko Plus. USAID will also spearhead efforts to evaluate the model and expertise to conduct a study to establish a distribution model for promoting and increasing the usage of the nutritional supplement.

3) JICA will provide on-going assistance to develop a business model and a business plan for Ajinomoto's nutritional supplements in Ghana through the Preparatory Survey for Base of the Pyramid (BoP) Business Promotion (from March 2011 to March 2014).