Rwanda vows to eradicate children malnutrition with Spirulina

Under the guidance of their principals, many primaries schools in Kigali city have started to breed a blue-green algae called spirulina, widely believed to contain a miraculous array of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

At the primary school of Nyamirambo, each pupil was assigned the care of a plastic bottle containing a sample of the culture.

Since spirulina, like any other plant, needs carbon to photosynthesis, the students have been asked to simply “shake the solution every two hours,” explains Francois Nyangenzi, a primary school teacher at Nyamirambo.

“We are trying to formulate a new protocol for plant breeding – in bottles, under various weather conditions, with or without any other resources,” Nyangezi told Xinhua.

It is expected that during the initial phase, the project will focus on three districts of Kigalicity including Gasabo, Kicukiro and Nyarugenge where the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has expanded its school feeding program in Rwanda to cover many schools especially in urban areas.

The school feeding program, which is part of a global WFP school feeding campaign launched by the agency in 2001, aims at expanding and improving education for millions of poor and suffering children around the world.

It is said that the school feeding program has increased school enrolment while the health of the school children has improved because the classrooms have been improved.

In a related development, the latest official report released by the National Institute of Statistics (NIS), four percent of Rwandan households equivalent to 82,000 homes, had poor food consumption, which represents an extremely insufficient and unbalanced diet.

However, as the new plant is known in the scientific community as multicellular photosynthetic Cyanophyceae, the algae is considered a”complete protein,” containing all nine essential amino acids that human beings need to survive.

Some experts say spirulina is a possible solution to the nutritional problems afflicting large portions of the human population. In several countries it is already being exploited as “the food of the future.” It can be cultivated in ponds or lakes, primarily in sub-tropical climates.

Abel Kagame, a medical expert at University Teaching Hospital told Xinhua that spirulina “is very good for reducing the risk of circulatory ailments, preventing cancer and even diminishing the effects of premenstrual syndrome, a problem affecting many women.”

Another indicator of the algae’s popularity is the fact that the Rwandan government is looking to ensures the supply of spirulina for the whole population with unacceptable food consumption.

Latest projections from a survey conducted by the Rwandan government in 2012, indicate that 85 percent of households in Rwanda cultivate land and rely on agriculture or livestock as the main livelihood activity.

However, it is said low income agriculturalists in the tiny East African nation are described to be the category that have a lower food consumption on score than households that are relying on livelihoods such as employment and business.

Commenting on the new move, the Rwandan minister of Agriculture, Geraldine Mukeshimana, said that even regions which do not posses the right conditions to grow algae could from now on be conditioned to grow the crop.

“Because of its nutritional value, spirulina is in high demand in the country to address food security,” she said. Endi

 

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