Crop-based approach program to address malnutrition – South Africa
Key Project Information
To address vitamin A deficiency, a national health problem in South Africa (prevalent in 43.6% of 1-9-year olds), the ARC promotes implementation of a crop-based approach involving the establishment of food gardens to increase the production, availability, access to, and consumption of provitamin A rich foods together with education in nutrition. This model was developed by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the ARC, and has proved to be successful in decreasing vitamin A deficiency in a pilot project in Ndunakazi community in Kwazulu-Natal. In Lusikisiki this initiative lead to increased consumption of vitamin A-rich vegetables as well as lower illness in children.
The major crop promoted is orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP), but in conjunction with swiss chard, orange butternut/pumpkin, carrot, and dark-green traditional vegetables e.g. amaranth. The activities includes training of community members/extension officers in production of provitamin A-rich crops, nutrition education, and practical establishment of gardens with provitamin A rich vegetables. The approach is useful for home garde, community, school and clinic gardens.
In 2013 the ARC and MRC published a revised version of a manual titled: “A crop-based approach to address vitamin A deficiency in South Africa” authored by Mieke Faber, Sunette Laurie, Anna-Marie Ball and Maria Andrade. This manual is useful to assist organizations with detailed information of how to implement projects with vegetable gardens to address vitamin A-deficiency. Implementation of home garden projects links to nutrition promotion on a wider scale by government departments, municipalities, NGO’s and development agencies will impact on the extent vitamin A deficiency in the country.
The ARC promote production of OFSP in school in partnership with the National Department of Education. Recently in two districts of North West Province, more than 46 educators and support staff from schools were trained in OFSP production practices and its nutritive value in order to augment the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) objectives for feeding learners at school. The schools were linked with a vine nursery enterprise from where vines can be purchased. In a project for Eastern Cape Department of Social Development, four groups (50 beneficiaries) were trained in the nutritional value, production practices and processing of OFSP during 2013-2014. This is a continuation of collaboration which started in 2009, expanding the training to more districts. Through this project, OFSP is promoted widely through Information days and other event e.g. Community Expo, World Food Day Events, Africa for Africa Women’s Conference.
Members: Musa Mtileni, Sidwell Tjale, Erika van den Heever, Thakhani Ramathavhana, Whelma Mphela, Dr Ian du Plooy