Students at the Nyamirambo primary school in Rwanda learn about the nutritional value of spirulina.

Students at the Nyamirambo primary school in Rwanda learn about the nutritional value of spirulina.

Xinhua News Agency reports that under the guidance of their principals many primary schools in Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali have started to grow spirulina, as part of a global UN World Food Program (WFP) school feeding campaign, launched in 2001, that aims to improve nutrition and health education for millions of poor and suffering children around the world.

At the Nyamirambo primary school, each pupil in the program was assigned a plastic bottle containing a sample of the spirulina culture and asked to “shake the solution every two hours,” said Francois Nyangenzi, a primary school teacher there. “We are trying to formulate a new protocol for plant breeding – in bottles, under various weather conditions, with or without any other resources,” he said.

The school feeding program has reportedly increased school enrollment while the health of the school children has improved. Abel Kagame, a medical expert at University Teaching Hospital, in Kigali, commented that spirulina “is very good for reducing the risk of circulatory ailments, preventing cancer and even diminishing the effects of premenstrual syndrome, a problem affecting many women.”

Another indicator of the success of the algae program is that the Rwandan government is now looking to ensure a supply of spirulina for the portion of the country’s population with unacceptable nutrition.

The Rwandan minister of Agriculture, Geraldine Mukeshimana, said that even regions that do not possess the right conditions to grow algae could be conditioned to grow the crop. “Because of its nutritional value, spirulina is in high demand in the country to address food security,” she said.