School meals: Farmers grow food for education

Thousands of farmers in Mozambique are supporting a drive to improve child nutrition and education by providing food for meals in 170 schools. The 80 farmers’ associations involved in the initiative receive seeds and training in crop management to produce nutritional fruits and vegetables.

Nutritious school meals are provided to more than 64,000 students in Mozambique © World Vision Mozambique

To improve poor results and attendance rates of primary school children in Mozambique’s rural areas, farmers’ associations in Nampula province are providing fresh produce to prepare daily meals for at least 64,000 students. With support from World Vision International, thousands of farmers have been able to sustainably increase their yields and supply enough food to reduce hunger in schools and help students stay in education.

Paulo Adelino, president of the Wakhaliherya farmers’ group remembers when, “years ago, many children were dropping out of school, as they were not motivated enough to be at school for hours on empty stomachs.” However, at Intenta primary school, he says, “Children in this school are now happy because they are eating xima [corn purée] and beans.” This food is supplied by Adelino’s farmers’ association with support from World Vision’s Educating Children Together Project (ECTP), which has been running since October 2012 in the Muecate and Nacaroa districts, Nampula province.

In the short-term, the initiative contributes to a reduction in hunger whilst, in the longer-term, it will continue to bring about improvements in agricultural production, as well as health and literacy. “We have two agronomists working with farmers on new farming techniques to improve production, crop diversity and yield. We also provide seeds and agricultural supplies to 80 associations, representing approximately 1,600 farmers. Those associations work with 170 schools,” says José Daniel, assistant manager of ECTP’s second phase. In the next 3 years, as farmer’s associations build their production capacities with the agronomists’ support and training in agribusiness skills, they have agreed to donate 30% of their production to schools.

The dietary diversity and nutritional value of children’s school meals is an important component of the initiative and is incorporated into the capacity training of local producers. World Vision Mozambique and the Nampula provincial government encourage farmers to invest in high-quality produce with targeted training, including in crop management of selected fruits and vegetables, such as pineapple and papaya. Farmer’s organisations are also supplied with a range of seeds for nutritional crops, such as maize, peanuts and cabbage. As Anthony Akwenyu, chief of party at World Vision Mozambique, notes, “The farmers’ associations have donated corn, beans, cabbage, onions, pepper and tomatoes, which has promoted dietary diversity in the children's school meals.”

The beneficial impacts of these diverse nutritional diets on the children’s education is already visible. “An impact evaluation conducted by World Vision revealed that the number of children able to read, write and comprehend their grade [or year-group] specific text has improved from 8% when the project started in 2013 to 25% in January 2016,” Akwenyu states.

Rita Vaz da Silva

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.