Scientists in the country are promoting production and consumption of African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs) in a move to fight malnutrition.
This is against the backdrop of 33 per cent of children being stunted or malnourished, which translates to one in every three children, according to the latest Uganda Health Demographics Survey.
As such researchers at National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) have identified AIVs that have essential vitamins and minerals. Some examples are: Spiderplant, African nightshades, pumpkin leaves, cowpea, vegetable amaranths, jute mallow, slenderleaf and African kale.
Speaking at a writeshop, held in Kampala last week, to develop communication materials to promote AIVs, Christine Alokit, communication and extension scientist, Cabi, said a six-month project will promote a seed system for growing vegetables.
“We want people to know the importance of consuming vegetables in the fight against the hidden hungers in Africa,” she said adding that under-exploited vegetables in East Africa are important sources of food nutrients required in the human diet.
The high protein and vitamin content of these vegetables can eliminate nutrient deficiencies and their consumption has been aised for a number of medical conditions.
Dr Sophie Musana, a principal research officer at National Crops Resources Research Institute Namulonge, noted that most food crops consumed by Ugandans have fewer diet values compared to vegetables.
“We have analysed nutritional content of vegetable varieties which need to be consumed and where they grow best,” said Dr Musana specifying the Bunyoro One dodo, an AIV, which can withstand the dry season.
According to Alokit, the campaign to promote production and consumption of AIVs will initially target farmers in the districts of Mukono, Masaka, Wakiso and Mpigi in the central region. It will also be implemented in lira and Apac where researchers and farmers are trying to promote the seed production of the popular Malakwang vegetable consumed in Northern Uganda.
The project is being implemented by NARO, NACRI, CAB International, and Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) with support from the Irish Aid.
The promotion campaign aims at reaching out to farmers through radio, television, print media messages, and fact sheets on production of AIVs among others.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor