Project seeks improved food security in Egypt

by Josh Sosland
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ROME – “Microfood production” projects, nutrition education and government training will be part of a new aid program for Egypt announced June 18 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The $3 million project, to be funded by Italy, seeks to enhance food and nutrition security through a variety of means.

“Unemployment rates for young people and women in Egypt are estimated at around 25%, much higher than the national average of 10%,” the F.A.O. said. “At the same time, health surveys in Egypt have shown that malnutrition is the root cause of over one third of sicknesses affecting children under the age of five.”

The program was announced at a time of considerable political upheaval in Egypt, as that country struggles with its transition from the long-time authoritarian rule of President Hosni Mubarak.

To give women and young people a chance to manage their own microfood production enterprises, the program will establish Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools and Community Model Gardens, the F.A. O. said. The program will teach participants to grow food, raise small animals and improve household income by marketing food products.

“Training on how to produce organic fertilizers, moreover, will allow households to avoid purchasing expensive fertilizers,” the F.A.O. said.

Training also will cover the topics of food processing and preservation techniques; household budgeting; record keeping; food marketing, microcredit and savings opportunities; improved food preparation and consumption practices; and food safety and hygiene.

The food nutrition component, aimed at reducing childhood malnutrition, will focus on food diversification, food hygiene, family planning and breast feeding.

“Radio dramas and spots, videos and events will also be used to promote better nutrition education,” the F.A.O. said. “Community kitchens will offer women the opportunity to meet regularly and use knowledge acquired to prepare healthy meals using fruits and vegetables produced in their microgardens. “

In the final element of the program, national and local government staff and extension and community workers will be trained in food production and nutrition to familiarize them with nutrition and health issues.

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