Uzondu Emmanuel Muoedu- Soil scientist/agriculturist based in Nkpor, Anambra/Nigeria.

20.05.2016

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The previous issue of Rural 21 addressed the concept of nutrition-sensitive agriculture, which our author believes is a valuable and worthwhile approach – only that it is often difficult to put into practice.

Malnutrition is a serious issue across the world especially in poor countries that lack information on how to achieve a balanced diet. High percentages of rural farmers cannot guarantee their daily nutrition from what they produce. For example, mixed farming is widespread in the poor countries. Theoretically, this traditional farming system covers the nutritional needs of the people involved. But many farmers who engage in crop and animal production do not include meat in their diet. They produce meat to sell on the market to meet other family needs. Some farmers only eat their poultry when one of the animals dies as a result of disease. They hardly pick healthy ones to kill and eat.

Another example is vegetable consumption. It is well-known that vegetables are a source of our dietary need and also a good source of income to people involved in the production and marketing. Everyone is likely to eat vegetables at least once a day either as a whole meal or incorporated with other meals. In Anambra State of Nigeria, vegetable production is a seasonal business. Some farmers produce vegetables mostly for personal consumption in a garden at their compound, which others use for commercial production. The most commonly grown vegetable here is African spinach, Amaranthus spp., water leaf, bitter leaf, etc. It needs soil that is rich in nutrients and requires an adequate supply of water to flourish. Harvesting such vegetables takes two to three weeks after planting, depending on the water and nutritional availability in the soil.

In Anambra State, there is no stipulated price for vegetables at any given time. During rainy season, a lot of farmers engage in vegetable production and make the commodity very cheap. Some farmers will not recover what they have spent growing the crop. Engaging in nutrition-sensitive agriculture requires resources.

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