Testing Acceptability and Tracking Health Effects of Millet and Pigeonpea in Myanmar
Myanmar is an Asian case study to demonstrate the ability to change consumer behavior to diversify staples, especially in a society where staple food such as white refined rice, is engrained in the modern diet.
Selected Smart Foods (millets and pigeonpea) were tested as an alternative to white refined rice in both rural and urban markets.
- a sampling showed that refined white rice constituted 75% of the calories in household plates,
- consumer research showed a clear indications of acceptability of the pigeonpea and millets in diets through a wide range of products and menu items in both rural and urban markets
- Indications of health improvements when the diet was diversified with pigeonpea and millets. With the small group tested, two weeks of including millets and pigeonpea in the diets of children aged 6 to 23 months had a positive impact on the extent of wasting and underweight; and
- Key partners along the whole value chain, both private industry and others, were identified and relationships built
The next steps
We are looking for funding to assist private industry and government to build the value chain for millets and pigeonpea in Myanmar. This will have a strong nutrition component and work with youth, women and rural communities, from entrepreneurs to retailers, chefs through to farmers.
Contact us if you would like to partner on this: SmartFood@cgiar.org.
Some more background
The study results show that there is acceptability of pigeonpea and millets amongst consumers and keen interest to adopt these food and diversify the staples for better nutrition and health. The study also brought out the suitability of these crops for Myanmar’s drylands based on the soil ecology, climatic conditions, feed/fodder requirements and to increase the livelihood of farmers.
With market potential identified in the research and partners established, a phase 2 is imperative to capitalize on this. This will be important to make a major impact on the nutrition and health needs, farming income and risk management in the drylands and opportunities for food entrepreneurs.
Rural Myanmar – Oe Bo village, Taungtha Township of Myingyan region
Market testing was undertaken in rural dryland villages by Myanmar Professional Social Worker Association focused on diversifying diets of young children (under 2 years), pregnant and lactating mothers and mothers of young children. To ascertain acceptability and to evaluate the nutrition benefits, testing was undertaken in Oe Bo village, Taungtha Township of Myingyan region. It included community sensory evaluation, baseline data collection, household survey, and a feeding program.
Urban Myanmar – Yangon city
The urban market was tested for consumer acceptance of millet and pigeon pea on the basis of sensory evaluations, price and health awareness. This was conducted in Yangon city, in wet markets, mom and pop shops, wholesale shops and supermarkets. It included sensory evaluation, price, product packaging, acceptability and likeability of millet and pigeonpea products from India identified and sent by ICRISAT. The market research in the urban communities was undertaken by Bio Nutrient Systems, a trader with a strong social entrepreneurship philosophy which is networked with all the major retailers as well as mom and pop stores and markets.
Study led by:
Study funded by: