Netherlands Embassy calls for more collaboration to address the issue of Malnutrition

Exhibitants show some of the other products that can be made from sweet potatoes and they are good to fight stunting in children

The Netherland Embassy in Rwanda has revealed that more collaboration is needed by policy makers, NGO, the private, researchers and other partners if the challenge of malnutrition is to be addressed.

The Ambassador of Netherlands Frédérique Maria De Man made the comments while addressing the audience on Tuesday during a Voice for Change Partnership Program round table discussion supported by Embassy and hosted by Caritas Rwanda as well as Imbaraga Farmer Federation at Lemigo hotel.

The roundtable discussion was organized to talk about the production and consumption of bio-fortified foods in Rwanda.

These include; high-iron beans rich in vitamin A and fresh orange sweet potatoes with an increased nutritional value. These crops can play a vital role in fighting hidden hunger and malnutrition especially in rural areas.

In her speech, the Ambassador explained that, Malnutrition is still a challenge in Rwanda, so much attention has been to stunting for the past few years, but added that more needs to be done.

“Rwanda’s agriculture sector has ample opportunity to prevent malnutrition and heal hidden hunger by producing bio-fortified foods like the high iron beans and orange fresh potatoes,” She said.

The ambassador acknowledged that the pressure on arable land is increasing with the population continuing to expand, but she recognized that Rwanda has changed not only by producing raw but better foods.

She added, “Rwanda’s agriculture capacity has ample opportunity to prevent undernourishment by working on best practices through the strengthening local food systems. She recommended that more needs to be done through policy development and research,”

In 2014, the government of Rwanda in collaboration with HarvestPlus hosted the 2nd Global Conference on Biofortification in Kigali, in a three-day work conference to deliberate on how best to expand the delivery of nutritious foods to reach more of the peopled suffering from malnutrition deficiency.

Jean-Paul Munyakazi a legal representative of Imbaraga farmer’s organizations also said that Rwanda has done much to eradicate poverty but malnutrition is still challenge that has brought an effect on the economy but their initiatives were taken by the government to address this issue.

In Rwanda poverty has steadily reduced in the past decades, however, child malnutrition has continued to be a challenge, currently stunting stands at 45% in rural areas than 24% in urban areas (24%) according to statistics.

The one-day discussion was supported by Netherlands Embassy, as part of the Voice4 of Change partnership program through SNV.

In 2014, the government of Rwanda in collaboration with HarvestPlus hosted the 2nd Global Conference on Biofortification in Kigali, in a three-day work conference to deliberate on how best to expand the delivery of nutritious foods to reach more of the peopled suffering from malnutrition deficiency.

For the private sector, the Ambassador encouraged the private sector to seize the opportunity of developing a value chain around these crops and to process nutritious crops like rice, crisps, and bread.

Augustine Musoni a researcher with Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), highlight during a presentation that bio-fortified beans play a role in fighting malnutrition because of richness in iron.

The other aspect he highlighted is that the crop is a top priority for food security and nutrition value because of its production which is high and it is consumed by most people in rural areas of Rwanda.

Dr. Julius Sindi Kirimi a consultant in agriculture also supported potatoes production saying that the crop is useful since leaves can be used as vegetables; the same leaves can be used for animal feeds.

“The cow which gives milk can be fed on potato leaves, in turn, it gives out manure used for crop farming and the leaves can be used as silage as well. The crop s multipurpose and climate-smart since it can be turned into other foods staffs like doughnuts, bread or juices.

Over 75% of the people in Rwanda stay in rural areas; agriculture contributes 35% to Rwanda’s GDP according to statistics.

The forum recommended that women should be empowered since they are very important when it comes decision-making process at any household level.

Our Reporter

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