From: Danielle Nierenberg, Worldwatch Institute, More from this Affiliate
Published October 14, 2010 11:55 AM

Ending Hunger in Africa

There is no one-size fits all or single crop solution to solving global hunger, alleviating poverty, or protecting the environment and mitigating climate change. But the good news is that there is a multi-crop solution and it's already being spear-headed by farmers on the ground: vegetables.


Some 1 billion people worldwide are affected by "hidden hunger," or micronutrient deficiencies – lack of Vitamin A, iron, and iodine, none of which are found in staple crops, but rather, in vegetables. Vegetable production is the most sustainable and affordable way of alleviating micronutrient deficiencies among the poor.

It's also the most sustainable and affordable way of improving biodiversity, preserving traditions and cultures, and improving livelihoods. Because vegetables typically have a shorter growing period than staple crops, they are less risk-prone to drought, maximizing scarce water supplies and soil nutrients better than crops such as maize.

Unfortunately, no country in Africa has a big focus on vegetable production. But that’s where AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center steps in, working with farmers to build a sustainable seed system in Africa. The Center does this by breeding a variety of vegetables with different traits—including resistance to disease and longer shelf life—and by bringing the farmers to the Regional Center in Arusha and to other offices across Africa to find out what exactly those farmers need in the field and at market.

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