LESOTHO LAUNCHES A BOOKLET ON BIO-FORTIFIED BEAN-BASED FOOD PRODUCTS FOR UNDER 5s
The Ministry of Agriculture and food Security (MAFS) in Lesotho through its Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) launched its first bio-fortified bean-based food products booklet for under 5 year olds on Friday the 8th June 2018. This was the work of different organisations such as the National University of Lesotho –Faculty of Agriculture –Department of Nutrition and Consumer Science, Food and Nutrition Coordinating Office, Ministry of Health, Nutrition Division within MAFS, Lesotho College of Education, and Lesotho Agricultural College. The development of this booklet which has several recipes inside came as a result of the Iron and Zinc deficiencies that were found in this age group. NUA 45 was the bean variety that was used for these recipes. This work was made possible by International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and Pan African Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) for initiative to research on biofortified beans, by providing beans and funding to develop bean based recipes included in this booklet.
The overall objective of this booklet was to address issues of malnutrition and stunting for the under 5s in Lesotho.
The specific objectives were to:
- Serve as a guideline for preparing standard recipes for under-fives using beans.
- Provide dietary diversification.
- Serve as a tool for introducing different food preparation methods.
- Reach out not only to Basotho, but also the international community within and outside Lesotho
Moreover, the booklet entails recipes that are in line with Basotho cultural practices and also emphasizes the importance of practicing hygiene before handling food.
Benefits of the Book
- Dietary diversification
- Standardized recipes
- Instructions are easy to follow
- Ingredients used are locally available and affordable
- The booklet entails a summary of food safety guidelines and hygiene practices
- It also has preparation of beans and bean flour flow chart which guides the user with information from sorting of beans, soaking, drying of beans, cooking and storage of beans and flour.
The workshop participants were formally welcomed by the Director of the Department of Agricultural Research; Dr. Lefulesele Lebesa, who stated that her Department is proud to launch this booklet and passed her sincere gratitude to her staff and local stakeholders in the Food and Nutrition sector who worked tirelessly to develop this booklet. She indicated that the development of this booklet is a one of the positive steps towards realizing Food and Nutrition Security in Lesotho leading to the achievement of the targets that the country has set in its strategic documents. The Director thanked all for taking time out of their buzzy schedules to attend this launch and encouraged them to engage with the organizers during the discussions to gain information more about this booklet.
The official launch was done by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s office; Mr. Temeki Ts’olo on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, who cloud not make it due to other commitments. The Minister expressed his gratitude to the organizers of this event who have put together excellent preparations to make the day a memorable one for the anticipated impact for the Food and Nutrition Security in Lesotho. He furthermore appreciated the direct contribution of International Centre for Tropical Agriculture through Pan African Bean Research Alliance in the Southern Africa region (CIAT – PABRA) which has made possible today’s achievement through the support towards the research into the bio-fortified beans and the products in the booklet. The Minister stated that the Government of Lesotho is committed to the eradication of hunger and malnutrition in all its forms because the high prevalence of malnutrition impacts greatly on education and health outcomes. According to the Minister, Lesotho is among the seven countries in the world that has shown progress in improving child nutrition outcomes, as evidenced by the 6 percent reduction in stunting in the past five years. However, the stunting rates still remain unacceptably high at 33 percent among children under 5, which is an indication that chronic food and nutrition insecurity are still prevalent. Bio-fortification is therefore a new public health intervention that seeks to improve the micronutrient content of staple foods such as beans that are consumed by most poor people using conventional plant breeding techniques to make a measurable impact on the magnitude of micronutrient malnutrition. The use of such beans could have a significant impact on the prevalence of iron deficiency in Lesotho.
In his closing remarks, the Minister spoke about the commendable work done by the Department of Agricultural Research and its local and international partners in improving access to marketable bio-fortified bean varieties and research undertaken to evaluate the performance of the bio-fortified bean variety; NUA 45 (locally known as Lebete). This variety is adaptable to Lesotho and has shown to maintain its bio-fortificants (Fe and Zn) to acceptable/required levels. Furthermore NUA 45 food products were developed by undertaking a number of sensory acceptability trials using both mothers and children under five years of age. Through this study, standardized and acceptable recipes were developed and documented into a booklet. He encouraged participants to create awareness about the existence of this booklet which will serve as a tool to enhance consumption of NUA 45 in Lesotho, especially for under-fives to reduce malnutrition and in particular stunting in children.
With the above remarks, the Lesotho bio-fortified bean-based food products booklet for under 5 year olds was officially launched.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s office; Mr. Temeki Tšolo with the Director of the Department of Agricultural Research; Dr. Lebesa and some of the stakeholders who developed the bean booklet.
The Minister and Workshop Participants
This article was written by Ms Rathabile Nchee. Rethabile is one of the CCARDESA’s focal persons for Information, Communication and Knowledge Management (ICKM) in Lesotho. She can be reached at email@example.com