Audio postcard: Quality Protein Maize — It’s protein with a punch

Before they began growing quality protein maize (QPM), many parents in the area of Nyabugando, Western Uganda, saw symptoms of sickness in their children.

It was common to see little ones with swelled and bloated bellies. They weren’t getting enough to eat, and they weren’t eating enough of the right foods.

Nyabugando Listeners’ Group said many of the babies and young children were showing a tell-tale sign of illness: their little heads were covered in reddish hair growth — quite distinct from the healthy black locks they were used to seeing.

But when the community began cultivating this new maize variety — cobs that contain additional protein and nutrients — they saw a change. The bellies shrunk and the red fuzz disappeared.

Mugisa Damaseni is a farmer in the area. He has eight children, ranging in age from four to 17 years. Mugisa spoke to us through a translator about the changes he’s seen since growing QPM:

“When we started growing QPM the children were looking not healthy, but now the children can eat and be satisfied.

I can see it even myself as well; I’m energetic, I can wake up very early. Even the children can wake up early. You see them energetic in the morning after feeding on QPM.”

What does that mean for the children? Mugisa describes how his family takes a QPM harvest and prepares a variety of meals:

“We can eat them in three ways: We can roast them and eat, we can cook them direct from the gardens and eat, and we can even mix them with beans and then eat it as a sauce.”

The recipes aren’t much different then what Mugisa and his family used to make with traditional maize cobs and kernels — the change is all on the inside.

After growing and eating QPM in its various forms his children are satisfied, stronger and the results are even showing in their education.

Turns out that protein packs a serious punch.

The Nyabugando Listeners’ Group learned about QPM from a participatory radio campaign on Kagadi-Kibaale Community Radio, which is a broadcasting partner in the demand-driven participatory radio campaign project.

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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