THE Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Director for the World Vegetable Center operations, Dr Gabriel Rugalema has expressed the need to prioritise investment in vegetables to increase economic opportunities for smallholder farmers as well as providing healthy diets for all.
“The production of vegetable offer immense and promising economic benefits for reducing rural poverty and unemployment and is a key component of farm diversification strategies,” said Dr Rugalema at the meeting with stakeholders on organic fertilisers and environmental conservation, held in Arusha recently.
Apart from providing economic opportunities, vegetables are mankind’s most affordable source of vitamins and minerals needed for good health.
According to health statistics man is required to eat at least 70 kilogrammes of vegetables annually to give the body the necessary nutrients like magnesium and vitamin A and get free from malnutrition.
The consumption of vegetables must be nurtured through a combination of supply-side interventions and behavioral change communication emphasizing the importance of eating vegetables for good nutrition and health.
The WVC regional center based in Arusha has employed over 100 people engaging in various research activities including 40 researchers, out of which 36 are Tanzanians and six from other African countries.
The WVC regional center also work closely with research institutes from 23 african countries like the Tanzania’s National Agricultural Research Institute (NARIs), Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO).
Apart from Tanzania, Dr Rugalema mentioned other countries that work together with the Center in carrying vegetable research as Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, Ethiopia, Zambia, Eritrea, Malawi, Eswatini, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Madagascar.
The WVC Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Director said further currently research in vegetables focus on climate, soil and seeds to ensure that farmers get high productivity.
He said when WVC share research findings with companies dealing with seed research that will guarantee high output and earnings to farmers.
The World Vegetable Center established operations in Eastern and Southern Africa in 1992 in Arusha, Tanzania.