“I can now share with my community that food is medicine” - A story about how SAA created awareness on nutrition at rural villages.
Awa Damba, a chair-lady of female farmer groups at the Production Postharvest handling and Trade Center (PHTC) of Siranikoto, Kayes Region of Mali, established by Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA). Awa is a host farmer of the Community Demonstration Plots (CDPs) set by SAA to promote improved farming practice for rice especially for women group and actively participates in several agro-processing activities including parboiling rice and groundnut butter processing. She is also a member of the control committee of Siranikoto PHTC.
“Until I received the training by SAA, I did not know have any knowledge on nutrition and I did not know how the composition of the food I prepare everyday affects wellbeing of the human body,” Awa explains “During the theoretical session, SAA staff showed us, using their DigiSoft technology “shocking” images of problems caused by unbalanced diets/malnutrition (stunting, wasting, underweight, overweight or obese, micronutrient deficiency) which are actually commonly seen in our community.”
a theoretical session of nutrition awareness, utilizing digi soft technology
“During the practical food preparation session, we learned hygiene is extremely important for food safety especially when we deal with raw ingredients. We also got useful advice by making our two major staple foods i.e. ““Tô” and “Gningnin kini” rich in nutrition and flavor by reducing use of oil for health while replacing it with groundnut butter as source of plant protein and “soumbala” (fermented condiment from locust bean) and “datou” (fermented condiment from white hibiscus flowers) to replace artificial seasoning. We could also utilize locally available seasonal fruits such as mangoes, papaya, orange and banana.
Awa has ambitious plans for the future. “I learned about importance of understanding nutrition composition and got practical skills to prepare nutritious food utilizing locally available ingredients for a healthy body, and I can now share with my community that food is medicine. I will start convincing all the members of our farmer organizations of the PHTC and our community to have knowledge about nutrition, especially of what kinds of foods to eat, how to prepare them in the right quantities and combinations and to avoid imbalanced and monotonous diets. To consume balanced diets utilizing locally available materials in each community is the cheapest way for us to be in good health. From now we know that our habit of eating balanced “Tô” and “Gningnin kini” makes food preventive medicine!”.