At least 500 rural women in Mulanje district are expected to benefit from Youth in Agriculture for Economic Development (YAED) project aimed at the production of high in beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A) Orange Freshed Sweet Potato (OFSP).
The project, “rooting out infant malnutrition with (OFSP)” targets to address the current country high rate of malnutrition which stands at about 60% of children under five, 57% of pregnant women.
YAED Programs Manager, Happy Arnold indicated that Malawi needs to improve vitamin A and energy intake especially for rural households with women and young children. He hinted that, malnutrition has a negative impact on brain and behavioral development, cognitive development and perhaps most visibly growth development.
“The project has an impact on both health and socio economic development of Malawi. Specifically, the project is a priority to implement after looking at the numbers of underweight (low weight-for-age), stunted (low height-for-age) and wasted (low weight-for-height) children. Malawi children suffer from malnourishment and this is a public health concern.
“As a youth organisation, we would like to intervene on health issues. We are aware that malnutrition is more prevalent amongst the poor and in rural areas. This is caused by lack of vitamin A in the human body and low consumption of nutritious foods such as Orange Fresh Sweet Potato,” explained Arnold. Sexual
He further indicated that despite that Malawian mothers have good understanding of healthy infant feeding practices; they are not able to implement them because of extreme poverty and food insecurity. Arnold added that infant malnutrition has an impact on the development of a community and nation at large especially delayed psychomotor development among the infants.
He cited in an interview, “Malnourished children experience developmental delays, weight-loss and illness as a result of inadequate intake of protein, calories and other nutrients. Malawi’s agriculture is mainly centred on cash crops such as tobacco, tea and cotton. This makes people to lose focus on the growing and consumption of nutritious foods.
The first phase of “rooting out infant malnutrition with OFSP” project, is expected to start end April. YAED has partnered with International Potato Centre (CIP) in terms of technical support, value addition trainings and potato vines production to the beneficiaries.
YAED is a youth led self-funded organisation that is also implementing a youth project in soybean production under the project “harvesting wealth from the soil through soybean production.”