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Migori Farmers root for nutritious food crops to boost immunity 

Famers in west Kanyamkago Ward, Uriri Sub County in Migori County have embarked on not only growing food crops but also focusing seriously on nutritious ones.

This paradigm shift comes amidst surging cases of malnutrition among the area residents, with children under the age of ten being the most affected.

Uriri Sub County has been largely identified as a tobacco growing hot spot and when farmers recently shifted to growing food crops, the need for nutritious one became highly prioritised.

During a farmer’s field day yesterday organised by the Ripple Effect, a non-government organization that trains farmers on modern and simple farming technologies, farmers came out to express their satisfaction of growing alternative food crops that add value to their meals.

Ms Beatrice Achieng, a farmer from west Kanyamkago, said the new farming interventions have saved her from growing tobacco and venturing into nutritious crops like sweet potatoes vines, grain amaranth and fruits, which have saved her family from malnutrition diseases.

According to Achieng, when they started growing food crops, they majored mainly on maize.

However, with the intervention of the new technologies and the sustained trainings of farmers in the past days, they have been encouraged to focus on the nutritious food crops and that have yielded positive results.

“I was an ardent tobacco grower for several years back before I shifted to growing food crops,” says Ms Achieng.

“But when we started growing food crops, we did not focus on nutritious ones, we were just growing crops for the sake of growing food and now things have changed, we grow crops of high value,” she explained.

Peter Gwengi, the executive director of Lake Victoria Initiatives, a non-government organisation that partners with community members on matters health, said they encouraged the community to grow crops that are of nutritious value.

Mr Gwengi noted that currently there are a lot of diseases associated with nutrition affecting dozens of farmers and other community members who are living with HIV/Aids. These people lack certain forms of diet that if they are introduced to will help boost their immunity.

“We are trying to advice farmers on which kinds of crops to grow that will help boost their immunity by adding nutrition value to their meals, so they are not just eating for the sake being satisfied,” said Mr Gwengi.

“We are also training them on how to prepare these foods so that they don’t lose their nutritious values.” he explained.

Some health conditions like living with HIV can only be managed through eating well by having a balanced diet as there is no cure for such ailments, he outlined.

Beatrice Were from Ripple Effect Organisation said that as an organisation, they would continue to promote climate smart farming technologies that are improving access to safe nutritious foods.

She affirmed that one of the main crops of high nutritious value is the grain amaranth that they are encouraging not only farmers to adopt but also the entire residents of Migori County.

“We are working with people living with HIV/AIDS who have suppressed immunity and with the introduction of the grain amaranth, their immunity system is going to be boosted when they take porridge made from the crop,” she explained.

Uriri sub county deputy county commissioner Ms Monica Kangethe who graced the event lauded the new farming systems that embrace the growing of nutritious crops.

Ms Kangethe said that as a national government they will continue supporting initiatives that promote the livelihood of the locals and that ensures there is sustainable food production for the sake of food security.

“We want to encourage the local community to embrace these technologies and adopt them to ensure there is sustainable food production to the entire community,” she said.

The administrator decried that West Kanyamkago ward was backward, dogged with a lot of insecurity issues, high poverty levels and also the nutritional conditions of children was very poor.

However, she said, this situation has been slowly changing since the farmers started growing enough valued food for families, courtesy of the Ripple Effect.

By Polycarp Ochieng and George Agimba 

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