UN City Garden Project in Boosts Nutrition and Jobs in the Congo

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African HarvestThe United Nations has taken a new approach to reaping the most out of its investments in Africa’s welfare. One of its programs, a five-year urban horticulture programme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has more than doubled the country’s output of vegetables, turned profits, increased nutrition and employed thousands. In a country where an estimated half of all children are chronically undernourished, this is great news.

The $10.4 million program is financed by Belgium and has been implemented since 2000. In total, it has successfully assisted urban growers in five of the DRC’s largest cities to produce 330,000 tons of vegetables annually, which is up from 148,000 in 2006.

The DRC’s economy has been positively impacted by program. Given that less than 10 percent of the vegetables produced are consumed by beneficiaries, the remaining 90% (constituting more than 250,000 tons of produce) is sold in urban markets and supermarkets. At $4 a kilo for the major vegetables produced (tomatoes, sweet peppers and onions), that translates into a surplus value of about $400 million.

This is one program that we cannot afford to have isolated in just one African country. If the continent’s leaders are smart, they should be in the process of assembling teams of researchers, farmers and engineers to learn the techniques needed to replicate the success of the program for their respective populations.

Source: allAfrica