With the support from European Union, Uganda Christian University (UCU) is to carry out research on value addition and technologies for prolonging shelf life of indigenous vegetables.
The three-year project aims to increase consumption of indigenous vegetables, which are rich in essential vitamins and minerals. However, they are not consumed as much leading to malnutrition especially among children and women.
It will provide better understanding of efficient delivery for value-added indigenous vegetables to markets, increased knowledge about technologies and processes for long shelf life.
Launching the project on November 3 in Kampala, David Mugawe, deputy vice chancellor, UCU, observed that there is urgent need to increase diversification in agricultural systems to improve nutrition through better balanced diets, profitable and sustainable smallholder productions and marketing systems.
“Indigenous vegetables are powerful tools in the fight against malnutrition and non-communicable diseases worldwide but more especially in Africa and Asia where poor dietary choices have led to critical high human health costs to society”, he said.
Field to fork
Mugawe noted that children had diets that include fruits and vegetables perform better in school than those who consume less. Nutrition is an important contributor to better academic performance.
Bogdan Stefanescu, head of rural development, EU delegation in Uganda, says intervention will create an impact on malnutrition, child deaths and food security.
“Indigenous vegetables are in many cases highly nutrient-dense, both in vitamins and minerals, thus they are powerful tools in the battle against malnutrition, however little research has been carried out to improve them in all aspects of value chain from field to fork,” he said.
EU will contribute Shs840m in parternship with Farmgain Africa, University of Greenwich, PAEPARD and CHAIN Uganda while UCU will contribute Shs120m towards the research.
Once post-harvest handling and preservation of African indigenous vegetables is achieved, there will be increased consumption in nutritionally vulnerable population, especially urban dwellers, while increasing the revenue of those engaged in the production.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor