A solar drying system guarantees fruit and vegetables all year round, particularly in the winter months when fruit and vegetables are scarce or less affordable.
Photo: © COSUDE / IFOAM – Organics International


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Malnutrition, particularly in women and children, is commonplace in mountain regions in parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Nutrition in Mountain Agro-Ecosystems project by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) mobilises local actors to implement innovative solutions with indigenous populations to ensure access to a balanced diet all year round.

As our Swiss ancestors knew all too well, life in mountain regions is challenging. Without infrastructure, people had to fend for themselves to find food and feed their families, leaving them susceptible to famine.

This situation is still a reality in many parts of the world. Almost half of people living in rural mountain communities in low-income countries are exposed to hunger, poverty and malnutrition. In the mountains in particular, cultivation periods for farmers are short, while the distances to market are long. This makes it difficult to produce enough food for subsistence on the one hand, and to generate income from selling the products on the other.

To counter this situation, the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and its partners developed the Nutrition in Mountain Agro-Ecosystems (NMA) project, which operates in eight countries (Ecuador, Ethiopia, India, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru and Tajikistan). The project aims to promote sustainable cultivation and production of diverse foodstuffs, such as fruit, vegetables, beans, milk and eggs, to enable healthy diets.

Every single person can make a difference

Preventing malnutrition is important, especially in children, since an insufficient supply of vitamins and minerals in early childhood affects children’s physical and mental development and the effects can be passed from one generation to the next.

But besides ensuring access to a varied diet, it is just as important that people are aware of the benefits of healthy and balanced eating.

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