Achieving food and nutrition security in the context of a growing population, climate change, worsening economic condition and poor diet among other variables, is a major challenge for Kano, Nigeria’s most populated state. The nutrition problem is largely due to poverty and lack of awareness on importance of wholesome meals.
Surprisingly, during wet and dry seasons in the state, thousands of tonnes of food such beans, soya beans, millet, sorghum, groundnut, vegetables etc are harvested locally. These foods contain all the essential nutrients necessary for healthy growth and development.
This underlined the need for Kano state Agro-Pastoral Development Project, KSADP, in collaboration with Sasakawa Africa Association, SAA, to initiate a special programme to support people in the state to ensure sustainable agriculture as well as adequate and balanced diet consumption.
KSADP, funded by the Islamic Development Bank and the Lives and Livelihoods Funds, LLF, seeks to reduce poverty, strengthen food and nutrition insecurity as well as address natural resource degradation, consistent with the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Kano State Development Plan II 2016-2025 (KSDP II) as well as the Federal Government of Nigeria‘s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020 and Agriculture Promotion Policy 2016-2020.
Under, the KSADP/SAA partnership, 377 Extension Agents and Community Based Facilitators (farmers trained to become focal points in each community to help improve agricultural productivity through dissemination of knowledge and skills), were trained on nutrition, to subsequently coach about 114, 000 smallholder farmers in 20 out of the 44 local government areas of the state, under the first year of the partnership.
A nutritionist coaching trainees on how to prepare good meals from locally sourced farm products
At the moment, the focus is to strengthen the extension system to support the cultivation and marketing of nutritious crops as well as improvement of nutrition education so that household nutrition and
Hajiya Daboyi from Bunkure. “Before this training, the practice in our village is to eat rice with oil or cook tuwo (millet meal with baobab soup), which is wholly carbohydrate and not the only requirement for children and even the adults. Today, I am very happy I have understood how to cook better food like soya bean cake, wheat pap, etc using locally planted crops. I can now share with fellow women that definitely, “Abincinka Garkuwarka” – literally meaning “your food is your protection”.
She is convinced that with good food, the youth and women can become stronger, thus, be able to work for more hours in the farms. This, coupled with extension education and inputs support, will lead to enhanced agricultural production.
On his part, Sa’idu Musa, a 49 year old farmer from Kabo local government area with a wife, seven children and some dependants, said he never knew the implication nutritious food on his children’s physical and mental health. “I have been farming since I was a boy but I only grow and sell the crops. I don’t know balanced diet. I used to think that good food is for the rich men in the city. With this knowledge gained, I will keep some of the crops I plant not just for cash but for my wife to prepare good food which will make the children hale and hearty”.
Abdurrashid H. Kofar Mata, the KSADP/SAA Project Coordinator explained that “the nutrition training, one of the several trainings to be conducted by the project, was primarily to teach beneficiaries, especially women, the impact of adequate nutrition on pregnancy outcomes and child development, highlight the benefit of proper nutrition and teach women how to prepare nutritious foods from locally harvested ingredients”.
No doubt, KSADP/SAA’s approach towards addressing food and nutrition security by training important stakeholders will expose communities in Kano state to the use of locally available crops to prepare healthy diets for their families, thereby reducing malnutrition, poverty and improving overall community wellbeing.
Ameen K. Yassar
Communication Specialist, KSADP