Integrated community-based growth monitoring and vegetable gardens focusing on crops rich in β-carotene: Project evaluation in a rural community in the Eastern Cape, South Africa
Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Agricultural Research Council - Vegetable and Ornamental Plant Institute (ARC-VOPI), Private Bag X293, Pretoria 0001, South Africa; Nutritional Intervention Research Unit, Medical Research Council (MRC), P.O. Box 19070, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa
BACKGROUND: Cultivation in β-carotene vegetables was promoted in a crop-based intervention in Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape, South Africa. The project also included nutrition education and community-based growth monitoring, and focused on technology transfer and mobilisation of local organisations. Three years after initiation of the project, participating (n = 219) and non-participating (n = 223) households were compared in terms of child morbidity, nutritional knowledge, dietary intake and gardening practices. RESULTS: Compared to control households, more caregivers from project households thought that yellow fruit and vegetables were good for their children (73% vs. 45%; P < 0.001), were familiar with the term 'vitamin A' (89% vs. 63%; P < 0.001), knew that vitamin A is a nutrient in food (83% vs. 53%; P < 0.001), and could name three food sources rich in vitamin A (56% vs. 27%; P < 0.001). Fewer 1-5-year-old children in the project households reportedly experienced vomiting (6% vs. 13%; P = 0.012), fever (30% vs. 42%; P = 0.008), sores on the skin (6% vs. 19%; P < 0.001), continuous runny nose (20% vs. 33%; P = 0.002), diarrhoea (2% vs. 7%; P = 0.026) and poor appetite (7% vs. 14%; P = 0.016). Children from project households consumed carrot (P = 0.008), butternut (P = 0.002), spinach (P = 0.004) and orange-fleshed sweetpotato (P = 0.028) more frequently than children from control households. CONCLUSION: The agricultural intervention, combined with nutrition education and community-based growth monitoring, showed a favourable effect on child morbidity, nutritional knowledge and dietary intake of β-carotene-rich vegetables. Agricultural interventions can therefore contribute significantly towards nutritional outcomes. © 2008 Society of Chemical Industry.
Daucus carota; Ipomoea batatas; Juglans cinerea; Spinacia oleracea