COOKING DEMONSTRATION BY FTS, FAO, NaNA and NARI

The recently concluded cooking demonstration which started from the 4th to the 10th July targets hundred farmers in four communities in Fass Njaga Choi, Alkali Kunda (NBR) Wassu and Mamudfana in CRR/S/N. Each of the communities was limited to 25 participants drawn from within due to the covid-19 containment protocol.

The facilitators were drawn from the three institutions FTS, NARI and NaNA who used social and behavioral change techniques (SBCC) through a food approach to help farmers identify the different food groups. This will help to support the eradication of Hidden Hunger (Malnutrition) and its related complications as well as the achievement of the sustainable Development Goals SDG 2 (Hunger).

Micronutrient deficiency also known as Hidden Hunger affects more than 2 billion people worldwide and its caused when intake of vitamins is inadequate in the body. At least, half of children worldwide younger than 5 years of age suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Many a time, people misconceive micronutrient deficiency to be lack of adequate food in the household. However, families may have adequate food but the improper intake of food in the right way may result to Hidden Hunger. Its ramifications are adverse and can result to health implications in both children and adults. It can cause poor physical and mental development in children, vulnerability to diseases, mental retardation, blindness and general losses in productivity.

In addressing these challenges of micronutrient deficiency especially among the world’s poorest countries, the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations under the patronage of the European Union project titled ‘’Improving food and Nutrition Security in The Gambia through food fortification seeks to combat Hidden Hunger in the Gambia through the cultivation of Bio-Fortified foods in three Agricultural regions North Bank Region, Central River Region North and Central River Region South. These regions according to research are the most affected regions with micronutrient deficiency in The Gambia.

The project since its inception in 2018 is working in partnership with the National Agriculture Research Institute, National Nutrition Agency and the Food Technology Services (FTS) of the Department of Agriculture (DoA) and supported by the Food and Agriculture Oragnisations (FAO) of the united nations. All these institutions have a stake in the implementation of the project. Hence with support from the project, the National Agriculture research institute introduced the orange sweet potato and the recent bio-fortified cassava rich in vitamin A. These were distributed to farmers in the selected regions who planted their first trials and the harvest was bumper according to farmers. The first matured trials was followed by a cooking demonstration to further raise awareness of participants on food preservation to maintain the micronutrients for health. Moreover, participants are trained how to prepare different dishes out of the vitamin- A rich cassava for optimal health and growth in both children and adults.

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18 November 2020

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