HarvestPlus, a global agricultural organisation, has mobilised about 5,000 women for training, to promote the consumption of biofortified foods to address malnutrition in the country. Nutrition and Post-harvest Manager, Olatundun Kalejaiye, while speaking in Kaduna during the training, said that most of the major staple food in the country such as cassava, maize, sweet potato, rice, beans, yam, plantain, and millet, were vitamins and mineral deficient.
She said that HarvestPlus was working with breeders using conventional means to naturally increase the nutrient and vitamins content of the staple crops, adding that the organisation was promoting the consumption of biofortified vitamins A cassava, maize, and orange flesh sweet potato in the state, as part of efforts to address malnutrition. Kalejaiye noted that the strategy was to make biofortified crops available such that women will be able to buy, process them into household meals and consume them, stressing that this will enable women meet the nutritional needs of their family, thereby preventing malnutrition.
She said that the organisation had established a Women-led Extension Platform, where women were reaching other women and that more than 5,000 had been reached in the last three months. Speaking further, she said the women would be trained on how to make money from biofortified crops by making them available to households for consumption, stating that another category of the women were women cooperatives dealing with maize processing, who would be trained on how to introduce biofortified varieties into their businesses. She said that the women would be driving nutrition education and information at the community level by targeting women in the households.
“This is very critical for the women and community members to know the value of nutrients and vitamins-enriched crops for their nutritious wellbeing. The essence of engaging women is to ensure that women know the available biofortified crops and buy them for their family nutrition whenever they go to the market”, as Kalejaiye also said that the women were also being trained on how to process the crops to ensure that the nutrients were retained. She said that HarvestPlus was leveraging the fact that when women knew the right thing, they would do it and pass the information to their daughters and other girls around them. Speaking further, she said in order to further promote the adaptation of the fortified crops, HarvestPlus had launched the first national biofortification recipe, adding that the recipe features a collection of practical and traditional dishes that had been cleverly adapted to provide added nutrition and fight malnutrition through biofortified foods in the country.