Gombe Women testify benefits of UNICEF’s ‘magic potato’ in addressing malnutrition

Gombe Women testify benefits of UNICEF’s ‘magic potato’ in addressing malnutrition

Releated Post


By Danjuma Attah, Gombe






Many women in Kalorgu and environs have embraced the use of a special easy to access complimentary feeding programmes along with breast milk that protects children from being malnourished.

This complimentary feeding for babies from six months to two years was introduced by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as an affordable means of preventing malnutrition, addressing child poverty and provide balance meals in homes.

A special breed of Orange Fresh Sweet Potato, introduced by UNICEF, is the tuber root food used that has magically turned the tide of malnutrition for children in Kalorgu community and its environs.

The special breed potato, yellowish in colour, is said to be rich in antioxidant called beta carotene, which is very effective at raising blood levels of vitamin A, particularly in children between the ages of one to four.

The centre used for providing the service where women are taught how to produce a variety of rich nutritious food for children is the Kalorgu Primary Health Care Centre, Kaltungo Local Government Area of Gombe State.

At the centre, caregivers, women and mothers are being provided with sufficient knowledge and skills on how to grow the all-purpose plant and use them to have the needed nutritious food.

During a UNICEF sponsored field visit to the centre with Journalists, it was observed from the mothers and their babies, unprecedented achievements loaded with a lot of success stories.

It was obvious and on display, a variety of local food suitable for babies above six months made from the special yellowish breed potato which include, noodles, flour, doughnut and a variety of baked foods, kunu zaki (local soft drinks), tuwo, pap using the yellow potato flour mixed with crops such as, maize, Sorghum, millet etc as well as other staple food and vegetables that are grown within the community or family backyards.

Narrating their experience to our Correspondent, Samira Yakubu, who had been coming to the centre in the past two months with her eight months old baby said she made use of all that she learnt in the centre.

According to her, “when I started giving my baby complimentary food after the exclusive breastfeeding over two months ago, the baby feels strong and healthy. The complimentary food contains vitamin A. I also do soya milk mixed with the potato flour and is very rich in vitamin A too.

“We had made earlier arrangements and planted the yellow potato more so that my husband is a farmer who supports me and is happy with the results”.

She testified that there is great difference between the eight months old baby and her seniors who could not get the current kind of feeding, adding that, “the older baby is not as heavy, healthier as this one.

“I gave the older daughter normal water without soya milk and we didn’t do exclusive breastfeeding for her. Her growing up had so many challenges, she’s weak, not plumpy, always falling down easily when walking.

”I have seen the difference and if God gives me another child, I’ll give her the same kind of treatment I gave this baby Maryam (as the baby is called). She has become a model and any where I go, people stop to admire her. I advise mothers to give their children this complimentary food because it also helps protect children from preventable diseases”, she stated.

Also testifying, Sandra Bala, who also showcased her lively healthy looking eight months old baby said the training she got from the centre has been worth it because the variety of foods she prepared for her baby from the vitamin A enriched yellow sweet potato has proven to be good for her baby.

She said, “I have been consistently feeding the baby with vitamin A cereal four to five times daily in the past months since we completed the exclusive breastfeeding. I call on mother’s to do same to for the good of their babies”.

For Mrs. Rahab Buba, who was full of gratitude to UNICEF for introducing them to the programme where she learned a combination of different foodstuff to get a balanced diet, listing flours from Guinea Corn, Sweet Potato, millet, rice and Soya Beans, which she mixes into flour and used it to make tuwo.

Speaking on growing the rear breed potato and the challenges, Mrs. Ramatu Zubairu, one of the coordinators of the project as well as a beneficiary, said because of the passion she has for planting the potato, her children have equally adopted that lifestyle of planting the magic potatoes tubers.

According to her, despite the initial set back of water shortage, she approached a philanthropist member of the community who supplied her water from his borehole through a hose to her house.

Mrs. Zubairu said she had seen the full benefit on her child, who has been demonstrating exceptional qualities compared to her siblings, who could not benefit from the complementary feeding project. “I have seen a display of exceptional intellectual abilities in my daughter after consuming the complementary food.

“She is yet to start school, but she keeps asking us to enroll her in school. She has such an extra-ordinary ability above that of her older siblings who did not have the privilege of eating this kind of food introduced to us,” said Mrs. Zubairu.

She explained that after using the flour from different grains, including the potato flour, the soup used in eating the tuwo would now be cooked with the homegrown vegetables from the garden, including the potato leaves, which she described as highly nutritious.

“You can see that we have consumed Vitamin A in the tuwo and then Vitamin A in the soup,” Mrs. Zubairu said.

Also speaking on the benefits derived from the magic Orange Flesh Potato on her children, Mrs. Olivia Joida pointed out that apart from the children, she had also enjoyed the full benefit of the complementary food, because it had increase her vision, through the abundance of Vitamin A in the potato and rampant complaints of sickness has drastically reduced.

She appealed to members of the community to embrace the farming of the Orange Flesh Potato plant and even turn it into a business venture. She howei called for Government intervention in the area of provision of water to enable them cultivate the potatoes in the dry season.

Mrs. Philomena Irene, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Bauchi Field Office said, UNICEF is introducing the Complementary Feeding Project in all the 10 wards of Kaltungo Local Government Area specifically to provide optimal nutrition for children when they begin complementary feeding after the six months exclusive breast feeding.

She explained that the complementary food used in the demonstration of the nutritious food comprise of locally available and affordable, as well as homegrown ones by the women right in their backyard.

She said, “This also the place where UNICEF is promoting the orange pot sweet potato cultivation. We have mothers here who have orange flesh potato vines in their backyard, which they are growing along with other vegetables like okra, spinach, cabbage and tomatoes, so that children can take variety of food that are nutritious, fresh and also that are palatable for their taste”.

Also speaking to our Correspondent, the Facility Manager of Kalargu Complementary Feeding Project of UNICEF, Mrs. Ladi Abdullahi, said the project began by sensitizing the beneficiaries on the orange-flesh potato, as a root tuber rich in vitamin A introduced by UNICEF to provide options for rich foods in homes.

“The potato was not only for consumption alone, but for making flour out of it, which are now introduced into different recipes”, said Mrs. Abdullahi.

She said lack of sufficient water had been a challenge in planting the potato, but that they had opted for planting them in sacks, because they cannot dry on time, saying the method had led to higher production of potatoes by the women.

She said the project had so far gained 75% acceptance after others, who resisted the project at first but were convinced to join it later after seeing positive results. Mrs Abdullahi said she goes round to sensitize other women to see the benefits of adopting the complementary feeding for their children and the entire family.

According to UNICEF the project is expected to be scaled up in all the Local Government Areas of Nigeria.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Related Posts

Thanks for subscribing to our newsletter