Seeds of change: The power of fruits and vegetables to improve nutrition in Tanzania
This report (PDF) by the Centre for Strategic & International Studies examined the imperative role of fruits and vegetables in combating malnutrition. The consumption of fruits and vegetables remains low globally. Tanzania is undergoing a food system change in farming, processing, and retail, especially in urban areas, as the country strives toward lowering stunting, micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity. Not only do fruits and vegetables present an opportunity to diversify diets and improve nutrition, they also provide labor opportunities, ignite entrepreneurship, and generate income for smallholder farmers. Research indicated the major barrier to individual and household consumption of fruits and vegetables was lack of knowledge, including a basic misunderstanding of nutritional needs versus hunger, generational misinformation on cooking vegetables too long to cleanse them of pesticides, and taboos concerning the effects of certain vegetables on male reproductive health. Recommendation for policy and donors are: 1) Create consumer demand. Food preferences are as much about taste as about income, geography, knowledge, behavior, culture, gender, and other determinants. Policy and funding approaches require a new lens that goes far beyond educational efforts and raising incomes: they must make a major shift to rethink how the quality rather than quantity of food affects health and how to develop and sustain the demand for healthy food. 2) Broaden implementation by: focussing on taste preference during first 1,000 days, extend the focus on men as nutrition beneficiaries, incorporate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), integrate overweight and obesity awareness, and increase mass communicatino methods. 3) Scale up an integrated multisectoral approach and work with the government to build local capacity across its ministries. 4) Accelerate public-private engagement. A leading challenge of public–private engagement is the balance of power in decisionmaking. To avoid complications with donors, public–private partnerships should collectively design project goals, identify and prepare for potential risks of the partnerships, and formally agree on responsibilities and roles.