From dream to Reality: My Academic Journey with RUFORUM support

Marius Affonfere was born in January 1993 and raised in Savalou district (Republic of Benin). In 2011, He obtained his Entry Level degree and he was granted a national scholarship for a Bachelor (BSc) degree in the School of Sciences and Techniques for Preservation and Processing of Agricultural Products at National University of Agriculture (Benin).

In December 2015, he was granted a RUFORUM scholarship to pursue his Master (MSc) degree under the Graduate Research Grant (RU 2015 GRG 125) entitled “Food to food fortification with baobab fruit pulp and morning leaf powder as a pathway to improve food and nutrition security of women and children in Benin”. Through this RUFORUM scholarship, he gained enough experiences in the laboratory and field work among other.

In January 2018, he obtained his Master degree in Agricultural Food Science and Technologies at the Faculty of Agronomic Sciences (FSA)/University of Abomey-Calavi (UAC) in Benin. In February 2018, he was awarded a six months RUFORUM Community-Based Field Attachment Program Award (CFAPA) to scale-out and disseminate his MSc thesis research findings. His CFAPA topic is entitled “Promotion of the consumption of sorghum porridge dual fortified with moringa leaf powder and baobab fruit pulp among under-five-years old children in rural Benin”.  This field attachment program award enabled him to work with the local populations and nutrition institutions in Benin.

Based on the recommendation arising from his CFAPA implementation, he was strongly motivated to pursue a PhD thesis on the use of local food resources to alleviate iron deficiencies among local populations in Benin. His PhD thesis entitled « Utilization of local food resources to alleviate iron deficiencies among children aged 6-59 months in Benin: case of Adansonia digitata L., Moringa oleifera Lam. and Cochlospermum tinctorium A. Rich.» is carrying out under BAOCHAIN project (Scaling up African baobab food products valuation through enhancement of their safety and value chains for food and nutritional security in Benin). BAOCHAIN project is a RUFORUM Community Action Research Programme Plus (CARP+). During his PhD, Marius Affonfere applied for an Innovation Products to Market Field Attachment Program Award (IPM-FAPA) in March 2021 to set-up a business and he was lucky enough to get this award. This enabled him to start a business named BICOF whose aim is to produce and market an iron-rich biscuit and infant flour enriched with baobab fruit pulp in the municipality of Abomey-Calavi (Benin, West Africa).

This business contributes to the enhancement of iron intake among Infant and Young Children (IYC) by exploiting the nutritional potential of local biodiversity. Supports from Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) has helped me to achieve my goal and I am very grateful to this institution.

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