Plenty Foundation Aims to Address Africa’s Food Security and Nutrition Challenges through Alt Protein

by Ella

In a bid to tackle the pressing food security and nutrition issues plaguing Africa, the newly launched Plenty Foundation is making waves with its innovative approach. The non-profit organization seeks to leverage biotech solutions and forge crucial multisector partnerships to alleviate the continent’s food and nutrition security concerns. Founder Arturo Jose Garcia shares insights into how alternative proteins can play a pivotal role in crafting a sustainable food system during an exclusive interview with Green Queen.

A Dire Situation

Africa faces a grim reality as a fifth of its population, equivalent to 278 million individuals, grapples with undernourishment. Alarming statistics provided by Oxfam reveal that 55 million children under the age of five suffer from stunted growth due to severe malnutrition. The Global Network Against Food Crises has reported that at least one in five Africans goes to bed hungry, with an estimated 140 million people on the continent facing acute food insecurity.


The Plenty Foundation’s Ambitious Mission

Operating against this backdrop of dire need, the Plenty Foundation has embarked on a mission to combat undernourishment, foster successful research and development outcomes, and promote the adoption of biotechnology solutions to elevate Africa’s food system. The organization’s approach integrates philanthropy, commercial research and development, and strategic market partnerships. By blending cutting-edge technology with a deep understanding of local nuances, the Plenty Foundation aims to expedite the development and availability of sustainable food options.


The Crucial Role of Alternative Proteins

Central to the foundation’s strategy are alternative proteins, including plant-based and cultivated meat products. According to Plenty Foundation founder Arturo Jose Garcia, these proteins are instrumental in transforming Africa’s food systems. He notes, “Cultivated meat offers an efficient and sustainable means to provide high-quality protein without the significant land, water, and feed resources required for traditional livestock farming.


Africa’s burgeoning population, set to reach 2.5 billion by 2050, with a quarter of the global population being African, is expected to drive a surge in meat demand. While the organization advocates for plant-based diets for their sustainability and health benefits, it also recognizes the cultural and nutritional significance of meat in many African diets. Cultivated meat, therefore, emerges as a complementary solution, offering the sensory and nutritional benefits of meat without the environmental drawbacks.


Tailored Solutions for Unique Challenges

Garcia emphasizes the need for tailored solutions, as different regions of Africa face distinct challenges. He explains, “In some parts of Africa, introducing more animal protein can be beneficial, especially in areas where malnutrition is prevalent. Sub-Saharan Africa faces acute challenges like malnutrition, droughts, and limited agricultural infrastructure. Cultivated meat can address malnutrition by providing essential proteins. In Western Africa, where livestock farming is prominent, transitioning to cultivated meat can reduce overgrazing and desertification.”

Strategic Partnerships and Innovation

The Plenty Foundation is strategically partnering with Newform Foods, Africa’s first cultivated meat company, to pioneer innovative approaches. Garcia elaborates, “We’re embarking on an innovative project: combining cultivated fat with existing alternative protein products. This approach retains the sensory and nutritional richness of meat while drastically reducing the environmental footprint.”

The organization aims to offer a holistic solution that caters to cultural preferences, health needs, and environmental sustainability. Their success metrics go beyond the number of meals provided, focusing on meal quality and the long-term sustainability of implemented solutions.

Collaborative Efforts and Future Prospects

The Plenty Foundation has submitted an application to ProVeg International’s Kickstarting for Good incubator program, signaling their commitment to transformative collaboration. They also plan to collaborate with local NGOs to ensure the effective distribution and acceptance of cell-cultured meat, grounding their solutions in local realities.

Amidst these initiatives, consumer reactions to cell-cultured meat offer optimism. A 2021 poll found that 60% of South Africans are ‘highly interested’ in trying cultivated meat, with 53% expressing a high likelihood of purchasing such products. In fact, 31% are open to paying more for cell-cultured meat. Pioneering brands like Newform Foods and WildBio are leading the way, but they won’t be the last in this space.

A Bright Future

Arturo Jose Garcia expresses optimism about the future of Africa’s food system. He acknowledges the pioneering efforts emerging from Africa’s food sector, from redefined food production methods to leveraging indigenous crops for plant-based products. Collaborations with entities like Co-Creation Hub and Vegan Africa Fund are solidifying Africa’s presence in the global alternative protein landscape, ushering in a promising era of transformation and innovation.



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