Countrywide dietary campaign in the pipeline

Based on the awareness that a proper diet is the foundation of good health, the country is on a crusade to foster better nutrition, especially after improving on the general food security situation.

Based on the awareness that a proper diet is the foundation of good health, the country is on a crusade to foster better nutrition, especially after improving on the general food security situation.

Projects such as One Cow per poor family [Gir’inka] project’ and the rolling out of the new ‘One Cup of Milk Per Child’ programme – that targets school-going children to fight malnutrition – are among the key interventions.

The Minister of Trade and Industry, François Kanimbla, Friday told lawmakers that malnutrition has a bearing to the ‘milk programme and that it was a problem the government was determined to check.

“There is now going to be a general countrywide campaign to fight malnutrition,” Kanimba told the Chamber of Deputies as he responded to queries related to the revised 2011/12 budget he presented.

According to ActionAid, an international anti-poverty agency, Rwanda is the most food secure country in east Africa.

The minister noted that Rwandan children suffer from poor nutrition not because food is lacking.

“There are many reasons for this [malnutrition] that people must discuss and a solution be found, because it is not clear how agricultural productivity goes up yet we still have the problem of malnutrition in Rwanda,” Kanimba added.

“In the coming days, there is going to be a lot of mobilization on how we can fight the issue of malnutrition”.

Dr. Daphrose Gahakwa, the deputy Director in charge of research at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), Monday said crucial research is being conducted to address nutrition issues.

“We have bio fortified crops such as beans that are rich in iron which cures Anaemia [the most common blood disorder] needed for children and pregnant women, orange fresh sweet potatoes with vitamin A which even people living with HIV/AIDS can eat,” she said.

Bio fortification is a method of breeding crops to increase their nutritional value.

“We also have cassava with vitamin A and maize with amino acids, as well as indigenous vegetables with Beta-carotene”.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), foods rich in beta-carotene protect body cells, are a source of vitamin A, enhance the functioning of the immune system and help the reproductive system function properly.

Food sources of beta-carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, turnip greens and collard greens.

Dr. Gahakwa said the country also has an abundant variety of edible mushrooms which “are a complete food” since they have a combination of the proteins obtained from milk and other foods.

“There are many other foods in the country and no Rwandan should be suffering from malnutrition.”

Mindset issues are also being blamed for the malnutrition as some people’s beliefs forbid certain “rich” foods.

james.karuhanga@newtimes.co.rw

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