Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Plumpy'nut

As we all learned in class on Tuesday January 27th, plumpy'nut is a high protein energy paste that is peanut based and contains many vitamins and minerals. The amount of nutrients in just one serving of plumpy'nut is equivalent to that of a multivitamin and a glass of milk. This is all very intriguing but as the discussion after the movie ensued I was interested to learn more.

Apparently among other things plumpy'nut has a two year shelf life and was actually inspired by the chocolate hazelnut spread: Nutella. However, is this supplement just providing weight gain? The children are only measured for weight gain, is there evidence that plump'nut is providing sufficient nutritional benefits? Plumpy'nut is only supposed to be used in extreme cases of malnutrition... how can anyone be certain if it is appropriate to be used as food for everyday? This might be an assumption, but even after the child who is malnorished is given the three weeks of plumpy'nut and is at the level of nutrititon they should be at is plumpy'nut what they should be consuming at this point? Niger cannot sustain itself on plumpy'nut alone. It is not a long term solution and as the news reporter said "the answer." I found out through some basic research that plumpy'nut is patented by Nutriset, a French company. After this bit of information though, every source goes on to say that it can be prepared locally. I could be wrong, but if the water supply is not good enough to make powdered milk and Niger does not seem like a place that would locally produce peanuts, there would have to be some outside help in order to get a plumpy'nut production station in Niger. Plumpy'nut could be the beginning of an answer if there were ways to get villagers involved with the production of it, thus making it a product that coud be produced inside the borders with the shortfall coming from the importation of some of the ingredients.


2 comments:

  1. Wow, very interesting that a French company has a patent on plumpynut. Can you add a link to information about that company?

    I came across this somewhat critical article about the cost of plumpy'nut: http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=60796

    Niger does produce peanuts on a large scale (or at least has a history of doing so). In fact, there is a fascinating case study that suggests that peanut oil production (for export) was one of the central causes of the famine in Niger in the mid-1970! If you can find it, check out the study by Richard Franke and Barbara Chasin on this topic (a book called Seeds of Famine).

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  2. I think the website might have been this one: http://www.thedoctorweighsin.com/journal/2008/1/30/plumpynut.html

    Also, that really surprised me about peanuts in Niger...

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