Most traditional vegetable varieties are rich in vitamins and provide a sound basis for a balanced diet.
Photo: J. Boethling


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In Kenya, smallholders are improving the health of their families by growing local cereal varieties and indigenous vegetables. The use of traditional foods is even helping people with HIV/AIDS.

It is not only acute hunger that kills people. Poor nutrition can also result in potentially fatal conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Malnutrition or “hidden hunger” causes permanent damage to the organism. A third of the world’s population obtains a more or less sufficient caloric intake from a diet consisting predominantly of three staple foods – rice, maize or wheat – but is deficient in vitamins, minerals, trace elements, essential fatty acids and amino acids.

A balanced diet, by contrast, lays the foundation for lasting good health – and hence development: it is only when people are consistently well that they have sufficient energy. “If a smallholder is not in good health, the productivity of his farm declines, which in turn has an adverse impact on the entire family’s food situation”, says Listone Ayodi of the Rural Service Programme (RSP), a Kenyan NGO. “It is the children in particular who suffer as a result of malnutrition”, Ayodi continues.

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