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Amaranth: A Case Study of Eradicating Malnutrition

A warm wind blows through vibrant purple fields of amaranth in the small community of Huixcazdha, Mexico. In this small village of fewer than 500 people located in Central Mexico, the families that live here are healthy and thriving. They have a stable economy; children are well-nourished, and households have a stable income. But it wasn’t always this way. During the last quarter of the 20th century, the people of Huixcazdha had been struggling. At one point nearly two out of three children in the village were malnourished, they lacked access to drinkable water and had no electricity. 

It wasn’t until Dr. Benito Manrique de Lara y Soria visited Huixcazdha 30 years ago that it all started to change. Benito was not born in the region but experienced the difficult societal issues first-hand while living around the world with his father that worked in the World Health Organization. After graduating from medical school, he decided he wanted to truly and deeply transform a community and decided to take the industry to the community. 

In 1986, Benito founded San Miguel de Proyectos Agropecuarios, a grain processing company.  The ancient grain amaranth, known for its outstanding nutrition profile of being a good source of protein and fiber, is a staple ingredient for many communities in Mexico. While amaranth had never been grown in Huixcazdha, Benito had the vision to bring the processing of amaranth into the community to create jobs to boost the local economy. His theory was that this ancient grain could unlock their well-being by fighting malnutrition and creating a better, more sustainable future.  

Kellogg is proud to be sourcing amaranth from San Miguel de Proyectos Agropecuarios for more than 10 years. First with Nutri-Grain® bars, and most recently, with Special K® cereal and Kellogg’s® Granos Ancestrales cereal and bars sold in Latin America. Through our shared partnership with CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center) and their MasAgro smallholder farmer program, some of the farmers supplying amaranth to San Miguel de Proyectos Agropecuarios also benefitted from trainings for sustainable rural development.1 The entire company is built on working with the community and building economic growth using local knowledge.

Today, the town of Huizcazdha is free of malnutrition. Most of the families in the community is employed at the processing facility, and all of them benefited from its presence. Amaranth is part of their diet, but the economic growth has enabled them to overcome malnourishment, thanks to the conviction and dedication of our amaranth supplier, San Miguel de Proyectos Agropecuarios. We are proud to have suppliers that make a true, impactful difference for the people in their communities while also working with us to address hunger and malnutrition more broadly in other communities.

At Kellogg, we are proud of our work with San Miguel de Proyectos Agropecuarios. As a global food company, we seek partners that best align with our values and offer unique skills to help build better days for people in need. Through our global platform, Breakfasts for Better Days, Kellogg is working to address hunger and food insecurity to create 3 billion Better Days around the world. Kellogg will continue to source amaranth from San Miguel de Proyectos Agropecuarios and we are currently working towards identifying other opportunities with similar companies in order to make a difference, not only for economic growth but also to address the unique social concerns of our supplier communities. To learn more about how you can help in the fight against hunger, visit www.openforbreakfast.com/fightinghunger

 

Maria Fernanda Mejia
Senior Vice President, Kellogg Company and President, Kellogg Latin America