Tanzania can reduce childhood stunting with new adaptive approach

22Feb 2021
The Guardian
Tanzania can reduce childhood stunting with new adaptive approach

Malnutrition prevalence remains alarming as stunting is declining too slowly while wasting still impacts the lives of far too many young children. Nearly half of all deaths in children under 5 are attributable to undernutrition.

Undernutrition puts children at greater risk of dying from common infections, increases the frequency and severity of such infections, and delays recovery. Poor nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life can also lead to stunted growth, which is associated with impaired cognitive ability and reduced school and work performance.

The Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) was established under the Seed Act No. 18 of 2003 as a successor to Tanzania Official Seed Certification Agency (TOSCA), which is a govemment entity under the Ministry of Agriculture. Tosci is responsible for verification of new crop varieties for official release and certification of seeds produced for sale in the country.

The Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute Uyole Centre (TARI-Uyole) in Mbeya Region has embarked on the reduction of malnutrition in the country by producing quality seeds for the cultivation of maize, beans and potatoes that are nutritious especially to children. Such production of seeds will surely reduce stunting among our children.

Stunted growth is a reduced growth rate in human development. It is a primary manifestation of malnutrition (or more precisely undernutrition) and recurrent infections, such as diarrhea and helminthiasis, in early childhood and even before birth, due to malnutrition during fetal development brought on by a malnourished mother. The definition of stunting according to the World Health Organization (WHO) is for the height for age  value to be less than two standard deviations of the WHO Child Growth Standards median.  

As of 2012 an estimated 162 million children under 5 years of age, or 25 per cent, were stunted. More than 90 per cent of the world's stunted children live in Africa and Asia, where respectively 36 per cent and 56 per cent of children are affected. Once established, stunting and its effects typically become permanent. Stunted children may never regain the height lost as a result of stunting, and most children will never gain the corresponding body weight. Living in an environment where many people defecate in the open due to lack of sanitation, is an important cause of stunted growth in children, for example in India.  We commend TARI-Uyole for the decision to come up with the strategy due to the malnutrition problem in the country hence through these foods     the problem of stunting  will be reduced to a great extent.

According to TARI-Uyole will continue producing seeds from modern technology that withstand drought and pests as well as increasing farmers yields. TARI-Uyole is conducting research on beans seeds of various types including those with nutrient content and have already came up with 42 types since research began.

Among such seeds are those that can safely be used by people with gastric problems. The strategy is to continue experimenting on the seeds to withstand climate change that has been fast affecting the world in recent years to enable the seeds withstand these changes. Cultivation of beans and other crops such as maize also employ reserve farming technology that does not overwork the soil especially during this period of climate change.

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