Home-grown vegetables boost children's health
Habtamu and his daughter working on their successful vegetable plot
June 2010 – A Plan urban agricultural project is helping more than 300 families in northern Ethiopia to tackle child nutrition problems and improve their income.
Plan provided the families from Lalibela with seeds and the skills needed to grow fruit and vegetables successfully in the small gardens and patches of land available in the town.
Now they are enjoying crops including Swiss chard, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots and green peppers, which they eat or sell at the local market.
Improving family diets
Minda Ayele, Plan’s food and nutrition specialist in Lalibela, says: “Producing vegetables at household level using the smallest available space can significantly change family diet and improve household incomes.”
In the past, child nutrition has been a problem in Lalibela with many children affected by diarrhoea. “Urban agriculture is improving this situation as families are producing enough vitamin-rich vegetables to feed their children,” explains Plan’s health expert in Lalibela, Hailu Birhanu.
A family project
Habtamu Getahun, a father of 5, is delighted with the project: “Plan taught me how to prepare land for vegetable production and provided me with vegetable seeds to get started. And my wife was given training in making compost.”
Gelanesh Asres, who also took part in the training, explains the difference it has made: “My family eats the vegetables I grow. My children particularly love carrots. These vegetables are improving the diet of my family and also bringing me some money. The demand for vegetables is growing here as Lalibela town is a tourist destination and many hotels pay a good price for vegetables. I am also planning to open up more plots to produce more vegetable varieties like onions and beetroot.”
Spreading the word
Now the idea is spreading as families pass on their newly acquired skills and practical experiences to neighbours and other members of their community.
“Hopefully, many people will benefit from knowledge about urban agriculture and produce vegetables and fruit for their own family and the local market,” says Habtamu.