ichel Nkurunziza writes in allafrica.com that the Food Agricultural Organization (FAO), City of Kigali and YaLa Africa are in a joint effort to combat malnutrition using spirulina farming. “It is a supplement that can be added to students’ food, and scientific studies have shown that spirulina significantly boosts mental performance,” said YaLa Africa’s spirulina expert, Kayitare Rwigema.
YaLa Africa is the largest pan-African online platform with 150,000+ members from all over the continent. The spirulina program, overseen by YaLa Africa, also includes micro-gardening and nutrition education. The first phase of a cooperative series is between Israel and Rwandan students, with the partnership of FAO.
According to FAO assistant country representative, Otto Vianney Muhinda, the initiative will help fight malnutrition as one child out of four, under the age of five, face malnutrition. “We have been working with YaLa Africa-Rwanda, City of Kigali and homes with kitchen gardens. We started spirulina farming at Gatenga Health Center using seeds we imported from Burundi. Now, we want to expand it to families in the community by using schools. We are fundraising for about US$500,000 to reach at least 20 schools,” he said.
The partners have set up spirulina farms in three schools so far; Masaka GS, St. Andre and Kimironko GS, where teachers and students are being trained by four students from Israel. Muhinda said this support is helping YaLa Africa to implement “We Are the Future,” a nutrition program made possible thanks to partnerships with FAO and the City of Kigali.
Mr. Muhinda said it is easy for the youth to quickly assimilate and spread that type of farming, adding that FAO would strengthen the initiative by taking it to communities. “Before FAO started its funding, spirulina failed in the villages as it is expensive to grow. But we are coming up with a simple method to reduce the cost,” he said.
“We can organize training and start youth clubs to popularize it,” said Christian Muneza, a Biology student at St Andre. Andrew Benjamin, a science teacher at St Andre, said he would work closely with their school agronomist during implementation. Also being trained is a group of teachers and students from the DR Congo, at Gatenga Health Center, YaLa Africa’s spirulina training site.