f_0020480_17242

f_0020480_17242 - C NTEST The World Policy Journal, in...

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© 2010 World Policy Institute 75 Ingenuity, Peanut Butter, and a Little Green Leaf J.T. Simms I first learned of moringa early in my service. It’s a small, thin tree, with medallion- shaped leaves resembling cooked spinach. Each serving contains more vitamins and nutrients than any other food in West Af- rica, and maybe the world. Native to India but found throughout the tropics, it con- tains, gram for gram, more vitamin A than carrots, more vitamin C than oranges, more potassium than bananas, more iron than spinach, and, astonishingly, more protein and calcium than milk. And, as a tree, it’s a permanent fixture that, once matured, is capable of being harvested every few weeks. Battling Malnutrition Food security is a central issue for all of Africa, particularly when accompanied by malnutrition. In West Africa, the extent of child malnutrition is among the highest in the world. All too often children suffer most in a food crises, whether due to rising prices on the global market or drought and crop shortages—a looming threat again this year. As a Peace Corps Health volun- teer in Aouloumat, a rural region of Niger, I learned that malnutrition is often caused by a lack of variety in one’s diet—a vita- min deficiency—not by a lack of food. The The World Policy Journal, in partnership with Africa Rural Connect, a program of the National Peace Corps Association, supporting returned Peace Corps volunteers and the Peace Corps community, conducted the first contest in the 27-year history of our magazine. Readers and followers of ±²j and the Peace Corps were invited to submit their solutions to the critical problem of food security in Africa. The finalists were reviewed by a panel of five Judges, and the winning entries are pub- lished here. Four runners-up are published on our website: www.worldpolicy.org C NTEST
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WORLD POLICY JOURNAL • FALL 2010 76 problem is largely cyclical. If basic grains like rice and millet are in short supply and high demand—thus more expensive—less money goes towards a balanced meal. When you are very hungry, filling the belly takes precedence over finding vegetables for sauce. The crux of the food security and malnutrition crises in Niger, particularly in rural communities, lies not in an inad- equate variety of foods able to be grown, though crop diversity certainly pales in comparison to many other places in the world. The issue is more immediate and basic. During the pre-harvest, lean season (over half the year) basic grain supplies diminish, and most of the already scarce vitamin and protein-rich foods (fruits, vegetables, beans) dwindle. Even when all are relatively cheap and readily available at once (a short period of no more than a few months), the combined power of grains, proteins and fruits or vegetables is rarely taken full advantage of, either for a lack of money or knowledge, or both. All of this calls for a local solution.
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f_0020480_17242 - C NTEST The World Policy Journal, in...

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