Dietary Diversity from Local Produce
Since its inception, FTFT-MnM has been providing training to farmers to help them understand the importance of growing and consuming nutrient-rich foods to increase dietary diversity for improved health.
According to a 2016 World Food Program Strategic Review in Tanzania, limited knowledge of healthy foods is one of the primary challenges to improving household nutrition in rural areas. The report found that families rarely consume the food they produce including fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, and meat. The report called upon stakeholders to develop strategies to address the nutrition problem.
FTFT-MnM facilitates technical training and cooking demonstration to farmers, agronomists, and nutrition specialists from both government and private institutions who amplify FTFT-MnM outreach by delivering good agricultural practices, basic technologies, and nutrition education in their communities. This value chain approach trains farmers to commercialize their farming activities and to establish home gardens to increase food production for dietary diversity.
Tomato farmer Mathias Mhelela shared his experience following the activity’s training interventions in his village. “I have learned to cook viwholo (green peas) today, and I have also learned to prepare nutrient-rich, diversified food available in our localities which can improve our nutritional status. Before that, this wasn’t considered important by most families in Kitasengwa.”
The most commonly-consumed foods in the village are ugali made using sembe (a solid, stiff meal made from whole grain maize), cooked rice, spinach, sukuma wiki (collard greens), and dried beans. Fish and other meats are only available once or twice a week in the village, mostly brought in from Iringa, a considerable distance away. This makes them that much more expensive due to the transport and handling costs involved.
Mhelela explained how new preparation methods can increase intake of certain nutritious foods in his community. “We have been producing orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, but only a very few of us know how to prepare the product for different recipes. Now that the nutrition specialist from the FTFT-MnM trained us to prepare different recipes from local produce and the diversification of dietary foods to supplement the high-cost imported food from Iringa, I hope this will improve our nutrition status.”
To date, FTFT-MnM has conducted 2,160 trainings in different themes including nutrition that benefited 44,314 individuals. The activity seeks to reach 40,000 households beneficiaries over four years of implementation.