Increasing Food Security in Refugee Communities in Uganda with Biofortified Crops
Angella Atero, Nutrition, Communication, and Advocacy Specialist, Uganda
September 20, 2019

HarvestPlus, in partnership with Self Help Africa, has supported more than 1,000 households in eight refugee settlements and host communities in Adjumani district, Northern Uganda. The work is aimed at improving their nutrition and income security by embracing the production, consumption, and marketing of vitamin A orange sweet potatoes (OSP) and iron beans.

Northern Uganda has historically hosted large refugee populations from neighboring countries. One reason for this is a legal and policy framework providing protection and access to assistance for refugees including access to land and social services, and the rights to work and establishing businesses. Many refugees identify as crop farmers, and make ends meet by consuming the food that they grow and selling handmade products in nearby communities.

HarvestPlus is strengthening the supply and delivery network of disease- and virus-resistant seeds for vitamin A OSP and iron beans to beneficiaries and building the capacity of Self Help Africa’s extension workers in nutrition, agronomy, and value addition of biofortified crops.

About 50 quarter acre pieces of multiplication gardens were set up to provide vitamin A orange sweet potato vines to about 20 households each. The beneficiaries were sensitized on the nutritional importance of vitamin A and iron and encouraged to grow and eat the crops. They also received training in proper agronomic practices for iron beans and vitamin A OSP that will help them grow and preserve the seeds and stems for future harvests. Finally, families received demonstrations of recipes to help them diversify the ways they prepare vitamin A OSP and iron beans and make products they can sell in nearby schools and markets. A refugee in Mungulo refugee settlement said, "I am so happy with the performance of the early-maturing iron bean varieties. I will increase the size of my garden so I can harvest more next season."

Similarly, AVSI Foundation, an international NGO, has partnered with HarvestPlus to support 2,000 refugees and host communities in Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement in Kamwenge district, in western Uganda with biofortified crops. HarvestPlus has built the capacity of community-based AVSI staff to train refugees and host communities in the production, consumption, and value addition of biofortified crops.

"Many of the refugees are expressing interest in growing iron beans this season," an AVSI field worker said.

HarvestPlus addressed bottlenecks in accessing seeds by establishing a network of agro-dealers for iron bean seed and vitamin A orange sweet potato vines to deliver planting materials to target communities. Refugees can then buy inputs at market rates without any distortions.

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