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How Beans Became Rwanda’s Battle Axe Against Malnutrition

Three years ago, Rwandan Farmers began to plant iron bio-fortified bean crops, known as Iron Beans to increase the intake of iron among its populace; today iron beans has become a significant tool of the war against malnutrition in the East African country

11 de Novembro de 2014 Publicada as: 16h05

VENTURES AFRICA – Three years ago, Rwandan Farmers began to plant iron bio-fortified bean crops, known as Iron Beans to increase the intake of iron among its populace; today iron beans has become a significant tool of the war against malnutrition in the East African country.

Developed by HarvestPlus, a global programme to improve nutrition coordinated by theInternational Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Food Policy Research Institute(IFPRI), iron Beans has become a crucial source of desperately needed nutrients in Rwanda where almost 40 percent of the children do not get enough iron in their diets. HarvestPlus says the lack of iron could lower IQs and learning capacity, hamper resistance to disease, and weaken energy levels. Beans is a traditional staple food in most parts of Africa, but with its bio-fortified specie, containing 15 percent more iron than ordinary beans, it can provide women and children with almost half their daily iron needs.

Global Prevalence of Micronutrient Deficiencies. Source: WHO

Global Prevalence of Micronutrient Deficiencies. Source: WHO

 

As well as being a life saver, HarvestPlus says Iron Beans is also a highly profitable crash crop yielding twice the harvest of ordinary beans, and increasing incomes for its more than 700,000 Rwandan farmers.

Despite the proven value of the iron beans since its release by the Rwandan Government in 2011, the bio-fortified crop is yet to achieve the desired spread around the country. To broaden its reach, Lister Katsvairo, head Rwanda’s HarvestPlus, said in a press release that the programme partnered Rwanda’s top music stars to promote the consumption as well as cultivation of the crop. “These iron beans are now making their way into urban markets, so we are launching a campaign to increase consumer awareness. We worked with Rwanda’s top musicians, who cater to all musical tastes including Afro-pop, rap and R&B.”

The music campaign, involving a series of roadshows across Rwanda which includes exhibitions and sales of iron bean seeds, saw popular acts like King James, Miss Jojo, Riderman, Tom Close, and Urban Boyzon perform live for over 30,000 people. The musicians also recorded a song and have just released a catchy video, produced by HarvestPlus and Rwanda Agriculture Board, to promote the iron Beans, and better nutrition in general.

 

 

For R&B star King James, the song was done not just for the listening pleasure of Rwandans but also to educate them on healthy eating and the benefits of the bio-fortified crop. “We are bringing good news for all Rwandans that will change their lives … it raises their knowledge about the benefits of growing and eating these high-iron beans” he said. We hope that will change the lives of a lot of people in Rwanda,” he added.

Rapper, Riderman, ecstatic about his participation in the project, described it as a “chance” to teach people how to stay healthy by eating what is necessary for their bodies. “We came together to make sure that we say goodbye to malnutrition,” he enthused.

HarvestPlus says the message of goodbye to malnutrition is also extending past Rwanda, the first African country to officially launch conventionally planted iron beans, to neighbours the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, countries with equally high malnutrition deficiencies. HarvestPlus said it is now distributing Iron beans to several hundred thousand farmers in those countries. The programme says it is also partnering CIAT to develop more varieties of beans even richer in iron.

 

Source: http://www.ventures-africa.com/2014/11/how-beans-became-rwandas-battle-axe-against-malnutrition/

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