Food & nutrition

Improving diets through increased variety of foods, use of indigenous or neglected crops, or biofortification of staple foods, is vital to improving health. Also covering nutrition for infants or the sick, adding value to crops through processing and improved food safety.

 
 
 
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CIMMYT

CIMMYT

Protein-rich maize - a nutritious crop

With higher levels of protein than normal maize, quality protein maize (QPM) is a valuable crop for resource-poor families who depend on maize as their staple food. In Gulu district, Uganda, an innovation platform for technology adoption (IPTA) has been set up to introduce and promote the crop. Grace Amito, one member of the platform, has been encouraging farmers to adopt it through her radio programmes. Charles Komakech, focal person of the IPTA, explains how farmers can maintain the quality of the crop by avoiding cross pollination, and commercial farmer Oola Lawrence explains the benefits of QPM compared to normal maize.

published: October 2013

CIMMYT

CIMMYT

Pest-free storage for quality protein maize

In northern Uganda, farmers growing quality protein maize (QPM) have been encouraged to make the most of their crop through improved storage and processing. A new warehouse has been built in the area by the World Food Programme, where farmers can deposit their crop in a clean, pest-free environment, ready to be sold later in the year when prices rise. Farmers have also been linked to local milling industries, and trained to use the QPM as a component of animal feed. But with its sweet taste and soft texture, the protein-rich maize is also enjoyed by farmers and their families, who use it to make porridge and posho, two local staple foods.

published: October 2013

World Agroforestry Center - Charlie Pye-Smith

World Agroforestry Center - Charlie Pye-Smith

Commercialising sorghum

Sorghum has been regarded as a ‘poor man’s crop’ in much of Africa. In southern Zambia, however, that situation is changing. Here, farmers, crop breeders, extension officers and people working in the food and feed industries have formed an ‘innovation platform’ – working together to support commercial sorghum production. New, high yielding and drought tolerant varieties of sorghum are generating good profits for farmers, many of whom are now supplying the Zambian brewing industry. And with sorghum having strong health benefits, its future contribution to Zambia’s economy – and to the livelihoods of small-scale farmers – looks assured. This report from Lusitu, southern Zambia, is on the changing face of sorghum production.

published: October 2013

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Orange fleshed sweet potato for better health

In Busia County, western Kenya, orange fleshed sweet potato, rich in vitamin A, is being grown by an increasing number of farmers for domestic consumption and for sale. Some are also growing and selling sweet potato vines to farmers locally and in other parts of the country, helping to spread the crop further. The development of the crop is being supported by a wide range of organisations, who have formed the Busia Innovation Platform in order to coordinate their efforts. In the first of a two-part series, Pius Sawa speaks to some of those involved in promoting the crop. 

published: October 2013

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Health-giving maize

In Morogoro, eastern Tanzania, a number of farmers have adopted cultivation of quality protein maize (QPM), which is much richer in protein than normal maize. The crop is being used by a local orphanage to feed malnourished children, and the Health Food company is also training the farmers in how to make best use of the crop in home consumption. Livestock feed manufacturer, International Tanfeeds, is also using the QPM to make a high-protein poultry feed, and training farmers in various parts of the region to grow the crop.

published: October 2013

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Sweet potato - adding value by processing

Having grown bumper harvests of orange fleshed sweet potato, farmers in Busia, western Kenya, needed a way to preserve the excess crop that could not be sold straight away. They chipped the potatoes into small pieces, and experimented with different systems of drying the chips, including solar driers and greenhouse driers. The dried chips are sold to markets in larger cities in Kenya, and are also milled into flour, to make a wide range of foods. These foods are very nutritious, being rich in vitamin A. The future plans for the farmers include the development of new products and the export of fresh roots and flour to international markets. They are also building new processing facilities so that their operation can be certified by KEBS, the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

published: October 2013

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Soya meat - tasty, nutritious and affordable

Through a simple processing technique, Demangam Victorine Luekam converts soya milk into a meat-like product. She then fries the soya meat in oil, which it allows it to be stored for up to a week, and sells cubes of it on sticks to a growing number of customers. Martha Chindong, who interviews Demangam, finds that soya meat is tasty as well as nutritious. It’s particularly good for menopausal women, as it contains natural oestrogen hormone. Eating soya products regularly helps to reduce the hot flushes that are a common symptom of menopause. And as a legume crop, soya also boosts soil fertility.

published: January 2012

FAO/Giulio Napolitano

FAO/Giulio Napolitano

Potagurt - sweet potato yoghurt

Groups of women in Ghana have recently started selling a new milk-based product. Potagurt is made from a blend of milk and sweet potato, which is pasteurised and turned into a nutritious and filling type of yoghurt. IFAD’s Root and Tuber Improvement and Marketing programme has provided assistance, including grants and loans in the form of yoghurt-making equipment, as well as training on hygiene, business development and record keeping. And by providing a new market for sweet potato, the initiative is also promoting greater cultivation of the crop in Ghana. Kofi Adu Domfeh speaks to some of those involved.

published: December 2011

HarvestPlus

HarvestPlus

Vitamin A to fight hidden hunger

In Zambia, the HarvestPlus programme has used conventional crop breeding techniques to develop five new varieties of maize which are rich in Vitamin A. The varieties produce orange coloured maize cobs, and in farmer trials they have been found to yield up to six tons per hectare - similar to hybrid white maize varieties. The maize meal can be used to produce a range of foods, including the Zambian staple food nshima. With much higher levels of Vitamin A compared to normal maize, the spread of these varieties, three of which are likely to be released in 2012, will be a major weapon in Zambia’s fight against Vitamin A deficiency.

published: October 2011

Martin Malungu

Martin Malungu

Orange sweet potato for Vitamin A

One in five children in Uganda suffers from Vitamin A deficiency, which causes night blindness, slow growth and weakens the immune system. The HarvestPlus programme is promoting four varieties of orange-fleshed sweet potato, which have high levels of Vitamin A. Eating the sweet potatoes on a regular basis gives adults and children the required amounts of this essential vitamin, as Wambi Michael learns when he speaks to a nutritionist from the programme. He also learns about how the crop is being spread, speaking to an agronomist, a marketing adviser, and one of the farmers who has been growing the crop since 2007.

published: September 2011

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