Diama A.a · Anitha S.b · Kane-Potaka J.b · Htut T.T.c · Jalagam A.b · Kumar P.b · Worou O.N.a · Tabo R.a
aInternational Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Bamako, Mali
bInternational Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad, India
cMyanmar Professional Social Workers Association (MPSWA), Yangon, Myanmar

Biesalski HK (ed): Hidden Hunger and the Transformation of Food Systems. How to Combat the Double Burden of Malnutrition? World Rev Nutr Diet. Basel, Karger, 2020, vol 121, pp 149–158



Some of the biggest global issues are poor diets, environmental concerns, and poverty. To tackle malnutrition, fast-growing lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, environmental concerns like climate change, land and water scarcity, and poverty, we need to incorporate dietary and on-farm diversity. These issues should be treated in unison, but also with more holistic solutions. Mainstreaming “traditional” Smart Foods back as staples across Africa and Asia is part of the “Smart Food” approach. Smart Foods are food items that fulfill the criteria of being good for you, the planet, and the farmer. Sorghum and millet were selected as the first Smart Foods and a participatory fun-filled approach was adopted to create awareness, to develop culturally acceptable products, and to bring about behavior change to improve adoption, dietary diversity, and nutritional status. Smart Food piloted these activities in Myanmar to understand its potential on the consumer market. Smart Food was promoted in different countries through social media competitions in Mali, cooking shows in Kenya and India, recipe development by popular chefs in Paris and London, as well as school feeding programs in Tanzania and India, and an international millet festival in Niger. As a case study in Myanmar, we compared two approaches to introduce Smart Food – one which directly introduces new products and one which takes a culturally sensitive participatory and inclusive approach. The later approach resulted in the development of 27 recipes, in contrast with the former approach, which accepted only 3 of the 13 products tested. The 27 products developed locally exhibited superior nutrient values compared to usual rice porridge. The Smart Food initiative is demonstrating the potential to make a difference in society and for the environment, thus contributing to a major impact on leading global issues such as dietary diversity, improved nutritional status, and adapting to climate change.

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