Sunday, July 21, 2013

OSP Farmers Partner with School Garden Project

Children Exercise at School 

South-western Uganda is a productive, fertile agricultural area producing most of the matooke (banana) loved as a staple for most of southern and central  Uganda.  With Lake Victoria to the east, this area rarely experiences serious drought and sports two rainy seasons, one short and one longer.  Despite being a good agricultural area, however, more than 40% of children are malnourished and 10% of them stunted, or shorter than they should be.  Partly this would appear to be a result of the over-dependence on matooke, which is not a particularly nutritious staple. Other factors compound this including: poverty; availability of a varied diet; a perception that a pot belly and thin arms is the norm in young children and lack of appreciation for green leafy plants. 

Pumpkin & Seeds Added to Meal
HEADA- Uganda, a new, small NGO has recently been granted funds from the American Academy of Pediatrics, International Section for a School  Nutrition and Garden project in four Primary Schools.  We will be Tackling Malnutrition thru Primary School Peer Groups in four primary schools.  

We hope to explore and learn some of the traditional ways used in this culture to support good nutrition, for nutritional behaviour is complex and complicated as well as difficult to change.  I am pleased when I visit one of the more remote parishes to find the VHTs preparing lunch have included pumpkin seeds in the banana-leaf wrapping used to steam the matooke.  
The Communal OSP Garden
The community-based health workers in six of the parishes in Rwampara Sub County have a Harvest Plus project in growing Vitamin A-enriched Orange Sweet Potatoes and High Iron Beans. Their first Orange Sweet Potato crop was successful but the high Iron beans produced only enough to replant for many of the farmers.  OSP Coordinators of the Volunteer Health Teams  (VHTs) have agreed to assist with our Primary School Gardens.
Agonomy Training for Ryanmyonga VHTs
Better than that, they were excited to have the chance to spend more time at the schools. Several of the schools have already implemented Tippy Taps by the latrines in the school yard, so we are off to a good start. 
Enough Hi Iron Beans to Replant
The children often number as high as 60-90 to a classroom, so the opportunity to reach many farmers in the community through their offspring is high.  We hope also to entice some of them in to assist with some activities in the School Garden.  The teachers are definitely excited and enthusiastic.  I suspect the VHTs will appreciate the chance to share their new found knowledge about OSP and high iron Beans.  They have been receiving both nutrition and agronomy training. The VHT coordinators chosen by the VHTS seem to be the more experienced farmers who had lots of vines to share with the community and while their bean crop has not done well this season, they will have enough beans to be able to replant.  



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