Introducing SBN Myanmar: Making a positive impact on nutrition through business

In 2013, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar joined the SUN Movement and established the Multi-Stakeholder Platform, which is implemented by the National Nutrition Centre (NNC) in the Department of Public Health and UNICEF, with the support of other relevant ministries and the Myanmar Nutrition Technical Network.

Myanmar faces high levels of malnutrition, with 1 in 3 households experiencing food insecurity and 27% of children suffering from stunting. At the same time, new forms of malnutrition are on the rise and it is predicted that by 2030, Myanmar will have more than 1 million obese school-aged children (Read more here)

In 2018, plans to engage the private sector by setting up a SUN Business Network (SBN) in Myanmar were put forward by WFP Myanmar. Businesses – from farmers, to food producers, to service suppliers and large employers – are recognised as key players in fighting malnutrition. They impact the affordability, accessibility and desirability of all kinds of food in the market, as well as in the workplace.

SBN Myanmar’s Phase 1 Strategy (2020-2021) was designed in 2019 through desk-research, stakeholder mapping and various bilateral and group consultations with public, non-profit and private actors. In addition, an Advisory Committee was formed to give strategic advice and to promote the network among future members and stakeholders.

SBN Myanmar’s Strategy outlines how the network will engage and support both SMEs and larger food-related businesses by:

  • Offering a forum for dialogue between private sector, government and other nutrition stakeholders
  • Sharing best practices and nutrition knowledge
  • Assessing business needs for improving nutrition and facilitating access to technical, financial and other support
  • Facilitating B2B and Public-Private Partnerships
  • Advocating for the role of business in addressing malnutrition in Myanmar

Further to this, SBN Myanmar has identified four thematic focus areas, which will drive the network’s planning and activities. These include:

  1. Food Fortification: SBN Myanmar aims to be the voice of the private sector in developing national food fortification standards and in promoting fortified food production and consumption to combat high levels of micronutrient deficiencies in the country.
  2. Food Safety: In 2017, Myanmar ranked 71 out of 113 countries in the EIU Global Food Security Index. Many companies think food safety in the agri-food supply chain is the biggest risk for nutrition. SBN Myanmar will contribute to capacity building and improving the enabling environment.
  3. Health and Nutrition in the Workplace: Large food and non-food companies can contribute to improving access to nutrition in the workplace by investing in healthy food for employees. SBN Myanmar will prioritise the promotion of workplace nutrition programmes amongst its members.
  4. Nutrition Awareness and Education: Limited knowledge exists among business and consumers about the importance of healthy and responsible eating. SBN Myanmar aims to build business and consumer awareness on the importance of nutrition.

SBN Myanmar is currently planning a business kick-off meeting in Yangon in early April, once the strategy has been endorsed by the Minister of Health.

Watch this space to follow SBN Myanmar’s progress in engaging food businesses to increase access to healthy and safe food for all consumers.

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