Increased fruit production contributes to decrease in malnutrition
Fruits are a good source of vitamins and mineral salts without which, the body cannot maintain proper health or develop resistance to diseases. Their importance in a well-balanced diet cannot be emphasized enough.
Unfortunately, fruits are often hard to come by in rural areas, so many farmers are unable to procure a sufficient amount of fruit for their diet's.
Msikidzi Farmer Field School is located in Mzingo village, traditional authority Kabudula in Lilongwe district, Malawi. This Farmer Field School formed in June 2009, with 25 members, 11 men and 14 women. They began fruit production in an effort to ensure that fruits were available throughout the year. Recently the group has intensified production of a variety of fruits.
‘‘The Msikidzi group was established in our village with the goal of helping farmers learn new and different agricultural technologies and at the same time to give farmers a chance to learn from each other” said Yosefe Chongoole, a facilitator for Msikidzi Farmer Field School. "We received training in different areas such as fruit and vegetable production, livestock production, irrigation and winter cropping, as well as village savings and loans," continued Yosefe.
Training in fruit production and management proved an eye-opening experience for members of the Msikidzi group. "Through this training we were able to appreciate the massive importance of fruit in our diet. All along we have been living with children suffering from diseases like beriberi and scurvy without knowing that the consumption of fruits would help reduce their risk of contracting these illnesses," said Yosefe.
After participating in the training, members of the Msikidzi Farmer Field School decided to establish a nursery where they could grow fruit trees. They received polythene tubes, watering cans and fruit seeds to get their project started. In the first year, they raised paw paws (papayas), oranges, lemons and mangoes. "For the first lot we shared the fruit trees amongst ourselves so that everyone had fruit at home or in his or her garden. For the remaining trees we established an orchard for the group. In our orchard we have paw paws, oranges, mangoes, bananas and lemons. In the same orchard we are also cultivating fruit trees for sale and for our households to plant too," explained Yosefe.
Yosefe described the impact fruit tree production has had on his community saying, “Today the malnutrition rate among children under five years of age has drastically reduced because of availability of different fruits in our village."
It is through the implementation of initiatives like fruit tree production that the Farmers First program continues to make a positive impact in targeted rural communities.
Since its inception, CPAR has planted more than 66,770,000 trees in Sub-Saharan Africa. Plant a Tree and help improve the environment, and the health of families in Sub-Saharan Africa.