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Handing over of the training manual and cooking demonstrations for traditional leafy vegetables in Kisumu County, Kenya

Published: 25 October 2023

The AgriFoSe2030 project, ‘Governance of food systems for improved food security in Nakuru and Kisumu Counties, Kenya’ organised a one day event in Kisumu to share research findings on the effects of cooking methods on the nutritional value of selected traditional leafy vegetables.

In addition, the event served as a platform for distributing the training manuals for traditional leafy vegetables to stakeholders, as well as conducting cooking demonstrations for the traditional leafy vegetables. The event took place during a multi-stakeholder meeting held on 6 October 2023 at the United Destiny Shapers CBO in Nyalenda, Kisumu County. In attendance were county officials, farmers, farmer group representatives, traders, consumers, ECDE teachers, researchers, health and nutrition experts among others. 

Photo 1: Participants of the event of handing over of the training manual and cooking demonstrations (Credit: Gladys Akinyi)

The project team - Prof. Cecilia Moraa Onyango and Dr. Samuel Omond, partnered with the Food and agriculture Organization (FAO), (represented by their inclusive food systems project coordinator, Ms Rebeccah Wanjiru) and selected agricultural extension staff from Kisumu and Nakuru, to develop the training manual on production, management, harvesting, preparation, and cooking of traditional leafy vegetables. The inclusivity and collaboration between the researchers and county extension workers ensured ownership and acceptance of the output by the actors (extension staff, farmers, traders, and consumers).

Photo 2: Project team member, Prof. Cecilia M. Onyango handing over the training manual to the Kisumu County representative (Credit: Samuel Omondi)

One of the invited researchers indicated “I have learned one thing, it is important to link research, extension, farmers, traders and consumers to realize food and nutrition security among households.” The co-produced manual is a useful tool that can be used by agricultural extension workers during training, farmers during production and management of the traditional leafy vegetables, and traders in handling the vegetables to enhance food safety as well as consumers on how to prepare and cook the vegetables. While receiving the training manuals, the representative of the County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Fisheries, Livestock Development and Irrigation ,Dr. George Evans Odhiambo emphasized the importance of going back to our traditional foods and the need to improve productivity of traditional foods.

One extension worker indicated, "Now we have a document to use for our training sessions. I urge you farmers not to keep the knowledge you have received today for yourselves. Let each one of you train at least four other farmers to spread the knowledge."

The project team also partnered with the nutrition expert, Dr. Beatrice Kiage from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), who conducted the various tests to assess the effects of different cooking methods on nutritional value of selected traditional leafy vegetables. Dr. Kiage also led the cooking demonstrations exercise. The cooking demonstrations aimed at building the capacity of actors (especially consumers and cooked food traders) on food handling, food safety, and the best preparation and cooking methods that would reduce loss of nutrients during preparation and cooking. Stakeholders were also given a chance to taste the different traditional leafy vegetables cooked using different cooking methods. The actors reported the vegetables prepared using the demonstrated methods were tastier and that they would adopt the methods.

Photo 3: Dr. Beatrice Kiage from JKUAT instructing stakeholders on how to properly prepare and cook traditional leafy vegetables (Credit: Samuel Omondi)

One farmer reported “I now can cook my vegetables using the traditional methods without fear of losing the micronutrients.’

A county nutrition officer expressed confidence in the cooking method tests and the need to embrace the traditional cooking methods, “Learning never stops, we were taught in college many years back that cooking the traditional vegetables using the community methods destroys all nutrients. I will change the narrative and tell the communities that our cooking methods are not bad. All we need to be aware of is which vegetables we are dealing with, what is our target nutrient and focus group. Then we can increase the quantities consumed to meet the daily allowances of minerals” 

Photo 4: Stakeholders about to taste different traditional leafy vegetables cooked through different methods(Credit: Samuel Omondi)

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Ng'endo Machua-Muniu

Communications Lead, C&E team
Stockholm Environment Institute
Telephone: +46 (0)70-316 80 30