By Caroline Namara & Rachael Cox.
On Tuesday 31st January 2017, in Burera district, Gashaki sector, Mbwe village; over 250 Feed the Future beneficiaries gathered at the launching of household groups where messaging about; nutrition and agronomic practices will be shared/trained.
This activity which was led by DERN program that partners together with International Potato Center (CIP) through its Rwanda OFSP Feed the Future for Income and Nutrition Activity has innovatively named the program Nutrition Education and Good Agricultural Practices (NEGAP). This initiative links agriculture, health and nutrition education to get families to grow, eat, and feed their children nutritious orange fleshed sweetpotatoes – a vital source of vitamin A.
Community volunteers called promoters were trained by CIP in November and December last year and they will implement trainings and demonstrations with participants over eight months.
Promoters are responsible for training groups of beneficiaries, normally comprised of 25–30 households.
Nutrition training is also offered to the households. Families learn how to prepare the sweetpotatoes, which contribute to the nutritional needs of young children and pregnant and breastfeeding women, as a component of a balanced diet.
The modes of training include experience sharing, demonstrations, and field/home visits. Promoters are responsible for regularly visiting households to share health education messages, to support behavior change activities at the household level, and to refer people to the health facilities when necessary.
The NEGAP activities also provide information and training to farmers on how to conserve the OFSP vines from season to season. For the activities farmers have to agree on a piece of land they can do trainings and demonstrations with, something complicated to organize between over 25 farmers. In Burera some farmer groups decided to rent land together to plant demonstration plots. This allows even more households to participate in learning about OFSP. The effectiveness of this approach is reflected in the words of one of the beneficiaries, who said: “From these demo plots, I’m certain that we’ll be able to get more vines to plant since most of our vines have dried up.” Farmers also said that they are looking forward to hearing more information on growing OFSP, including the best ways on how to grow and properly prepare OFSP through these groups.