Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Home > Agriculture > State Unveils Vegetables Project to Improve Nutrition

State Unveils Vegetables Project to Improve Nutrition

Kiambu is among five Counties that will benefit from a Ksh 1.5 billion during a five year project on production and consumption of vegetable to improve the nutrition of households.

The project dubbed “Vegetable for All” launched today aims to contribute to improving nutritious diets through increased consumption of safe vegetables and also greater use of vegetables in the Kenyan cuisine.

According to the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) the results will see more than 1 million Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) consumer’s access nutritious diets.

Speaking during the launch, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi said there is a need to shift in food choices to enhance consumption of nutritious diets to improve the health and quality of life of many Kenyans.

He noted that Vegetables especially the traditional ones stand out for health benefits, have higher quantities of nutrients and the high protein and vitamin contents in these vegetables can eliminate deficiencies amongst vulnerable population like children and pregnant women.

Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock development Secretary administration Rashid Khator during the launch of vegetables for all.

In a speech read on his behalf by Secretary Administration in the Agriculture Ministry  Rashid Khator the CS  noted that Kenyans are not eating adequate vegetables as per World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.

“Kenya faces the triple burden of malnutrition. This encompasses under nutrition (stunting, wasting & underweight), micronutrient deficiencies, and obesity with associated diet-related non-communicable diseases (DRNCD)”, he said.

The recently released Kenya Demographic Health Survey report (KDHS 2022) estimates that 18 percent of our children 6–59 months are still stunted, 5 percent are wasted, 10 percent underweight and 3 percent are overweight, way above the World Health Assembly targets

The CS added that according to research, the African traditional vegetables contain essential vitamins, particularly A, B and C, and minerals (such as calcium and iron) as well as supplementary protein and calories.

GAIN Country Director Ruth Okowa said the project is meant to improve the nutritious status in five counties namely Kiambu, Machakos ,  Mombasa , Nakuru and Nairobi .

The biggest challenge we are having is the uptake of vegetables and according to WHO, people should be able to consume at least 400 gms of vegetables and fruits per day but in Kenya only 5 percent of people do that, and a majority consume between 100 to 130 grams of vegetables per day and this has a nutritional effect”, she said

She added that the value of vegetables in our health in terms of vitamins, in terms of minerals leads to a lot of deficiencies, particularly to children under five and also to lactating mothers and also the vulnerable at the age.

“This project is meant to improve all the consumption of vegetables to all populations in the five counties and to ensure that there is better nourishment, there is a healthier diet, and people can have better nutrition at the end of the project.

She acknowledged that production of vegetables in some areas in the country is low and others high and this present’s different kind of challenges since in areas where there is high production, we also have high wastage and high post-harvest lost.

We are encouraging farmers and working with them, with the aggregators together with other partners who have also started projects that target the youth in agribusiness to bring all the vegetables at one Centre and be able fill the gap where there are limited vegetables.

Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) Country Director Ruth Okowa during the launch. pictures by Wangari Ndirangu

“We are training the last mile vendors on a pilot basis and we are looking at issue of safety, traceability, working with the suppliers and our approach is to work with over 5,000 vendors on issues of safety”, Okowa said.

She said the five year project aligns with National Policies and priorities and strategies such as vision 2030, Agricultural Sector Development Strategy   (ASDS) and also the Bottom- Up Economic Transformative Agenda (BETA)

Okowa called upon all to embrace the power of vegetables saying the need the increase the consumption of vegetables is not merely a dietary choice but a path to better health, economic growth, environmental sustainability and a preservation of our cultural identity.

Lawrence Haddad, the Executive Director of GAIN said “We want a million Kenyans to consume better vegetables have better diets as they are key to prevent malnutrition, to have a good life, to give your kids the best nutrition they can possibly get, to help them do well in school and avoid things like obesity overweight and diabetes and anemia, they’re absolutely critical.

He mentioned most Kenyans consume vegetables but very little amounts because they are worried about safety how the vegetables are  grown in water, the price, taste and even convenience.

“This project is trying to build up the demand for vegetables, make them more attractive. It’s trying to help the last mile vendors, the mama ‘mbogas’ get access to more reliable supplies, safer supplies of vegetables” , he said .

Haddad said working with County governments  will help them support  in the demand and the supply by strengthening the vegetable value chain in the country, reducing food loss and waste, improving cold chains, improving storage facilities, improving market information, improving certification of suppliers in terms of whether they are adhering to food safety standards or not.

“We are looking for an improvement in production over a five-year period of about 10 percent to 20 percent. But it’s not really about improving production. It’s about reducing loss. Vegetables’ loss is about 40 percent once it’s been produced and off the farm and off the supplier. So we need to reduce the loss”, Gain Executive Directors said.

The UN Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016- 2025) and the UN Food Systems Summit  call on the enhancement of sustainable food systems and on the importance of diversifying diets with nutritious foods, while broadening the existing food base and preserving biodiversity.

By   Wangari Ndirangu

 

Leave a Reply