As part of MRHP’s agriculture programme, the village communities of the Mwanza region are encouraged to plant a variety of fruit and vegetables which were not traditionally grown in the area. The holistic approach employed by the organisation is followed through education in the processing and cooking of these crops, as there is no point in planting a crop if the farmer has no knowledge of how to prepare and use it.
Basic nutritional education is undertaken, teaching community members the different food types required for a balanced diet, such as vitamins, proteins and fats, and how they can obtain them from their own produce. The importance of fruit like mango, watermelon and papaya in the diet is stressed, particularly with reference to children, the elderly and those with HIV/AIDS, as is the use of grain legumes, grown as a cash crop in many cases, but important as a source of protein. Poor nutrition restricts the impact of anti-retroviral drugs, while certain foods like porridge made from groundnuts and maize are particularly effective in helping the body fight HIV/AIDS and prevent opportunistic infection, so a lot of stress is placed on the use of these in a balanced diet. Future plans for MRHP include greater emphasis on helping people living with HIV/AIDS.
As with all MRHP activities, much of this nutritional education is passed on through village animators, who in addition to being given the basic information are shown interesting and nutritious recipes to encourage healthy eating.