Audio postcard: A new way for schools to encourage a healthy diet

Farmers in Uganda are old and young, tall and short, men and women. They come from small towns and even smaller rural villages. But sometimes farming can be found in unexpected places.

At Guild Nursery and Primary School, there is a listening club of over 30 members who began cultivating a garden of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. All the produce from the garden goes straight to the school’s kitchen.

The members include teachers, cooks and the school’s headmaster. Thanks to the garden and its harvest, the children at Guild Nursery and Primary School are receiving all the nutritional benefit of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes — calorie-dense capsules of vitamins A, C and B6.

It’s a great way to make sure vulnerable children — ones who might not be getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals in their diet at home — can make up the nutritional difference at school. A healthy body makes a healthy mind!

With encouragement and support from Charles Akeru, a broadcaster at the local radio station Continental FM, the Guild Nursery Potato Project was born.

Listen to Joseph Okorom, headmaster and group chairperson, talk about the garden’s beginnings:

“I was listening to the radio, it was when I was here with some children, we were just seated and we heard about it. It was a slight idea, but I followed him up and I visited him at the station. I asked him, ‘Is there something I heard you are presenting on? What is it all about? How do these vines help? And where do we access them from?’

Similarly, when I continued listening, we heard some people could call and say, ‘I have the vines, from a certain place, if you want, please.’ So, when I followed up with him, he narrated to me that these potato vines can do a better yield — you get a lot of potatoes. I told him, ‘Please, help us locate where we can find the vines.’ Fortunately he did that.

We had someone from (a vine supplier) and he communicated to him. He quickly called in and said, ‘How many bags do you want?’ I told him, ‘Please, let’s begin with 10 bags.’ He quickly called the other one and we coordinated in between. So he called him, I’m sending a boda (a motorcycle taxi) and immediately followed it up also.

Charles encouraged us, he said, ‘Please, get into it and implement the idea.’ ”

From the back of a boda to the school’s kitchen, it’s just that easy.

You can see how important the support of partner radio stations and individual broadcasters are to the work of Farm Radio International.

Now the children at Guild Nursery and Primary School are receiving all the nutrition and brain boosting properties that come from including OFSP in a regular diet.

This project is teaching farmers in Tanzania, Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso and Uganda about the nutrition benefits of the orange-fleshed variety of sweet potatoes.

Megan Stacey
About the author  
Megan Stacey is a reporter who spent the fall of 2014 working for Farm Radio in Kampala, Uganda, as part of an internship through the Centre for Media and Transitional Societies. She recently graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Journalism. Megan is currently working for a small daily paper and a communications start-up focused on sharing stories and innovations from developing communities.

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