Two Non-Governmental Organisations, Human Rights Care and Gender Organisation (Envirocare) and Solidaridad Tanzania partnerd with the Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TaCRI) to train 402 lead farmers and 112 extension officers in nutrition in three southern regions that Include Ruvuma, Mbeya and Songwe
The training aimed at sensitising smallholder farmers on the importance of eating a balanced diet as part of efforts to address nutritional problems.
Speaking with The Business Wiz during an interview in Dar es Salaam on Thursday, Envirocare Project Manager Amos Mbwambo said while Ruvuma, Mbeya and Songwe were among the country’s major food producing regions, they were paradoxically among the regions with high levels of malnutrition, stunting and underweight in the country.
“Training of lead farmers and extension officers is part of Passport to Coffee Export (PACE), a 42- month project funded by the EU under a government programme called Agri-Connect,” he said.
He explained that training started in 2020 and would continue until 2024 adding that besides the training, Passport to Coffee Export (PACE) Project has established 10 botanical gardens with a drip irrigation system and women grow vegetables for their families and sell the surplus to earn some income.
Mbwambo explained that the project provided farmers with avocado seedlings and encouraged the farmers to grow coffee and fruits on their farms. It also involve nutrition officers, medical officers and community health workers to address nutritional problems in local government authorities (LGAs).
He said southern highlands regions were major food producers in the country, but they faced nutritional problems due to eating unbalanced diet and being prone to diseases like diarrhea and malaria.
“This is according to baseline study findings by Solidaridad Tanzania in project areas, presentations of district medical officers and the National Multisectoral Nutrition Action Plan 2021/22-2025/26,” he said.
Asked on how much they had succeeded in addressing nutritional challenges in project areas Mbwambo said the project’s success would be evaluated after a monitoring study on malnutrition, stunting and underweight trends that is set to be conducted next year.
According to Tanzania National Nutrition Survey (TNNS) of 2018, 15 out of 26 regions had levels of stunting above 30 per cent, considered to be ‘very high’ based on the new WHO-UNICEF prevalence thresholds for stunting. Underweight dropped from 25.1 per cent (1991-1992) to 13.4 per cent (2014), but increased from 13.4 per cent to 14.6 per cent between 2014 and 2018.