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Grow Your Future

A kit to spread knowledge of nutriants and build upon their existing skills.

Photo of Divya  Hirani
23 12

Written by

Updated 02/01/2015
One of the major problems in Ibanda District in Uganda is malnutrition. Some of the major issues caused by malnutrition include stunting, body wasting and becoming underweight leading to the single greatest cause of child morality directly and indirectly. This also leads to children having a weak immune system leaving them more prone to catching diseases. This is even more of a concern in isolated villages like around the rural areas of the Ibanda district, what they need is a healthy and reliable food supplies along with the right knowledge of what each crop is good for in terms of their health. This should be done through a way that builds and expands upon the skills they already have allowing them to take initiative in other aspects of the community.
 
The GROW YOUR FUTURE pack would allow parents and children to learn the process of growing crops together and help to understand how to grow and look after the crops in the most effective way.
 
The pack will include:
 
A range of seeds to grow crops
By taking advantage of the rainy weather in Uganda, a range of seeds and stem cuttings are included in a box (made of cardboard). Seeds for Cassava, Millet, Rice, Sweet Potato, Yam, Bananas, Soya Beans and Spinach are included (these are ideal for growing in the area). These also have a range of growing time so they won’t have to wait long for a sustainable food source to be created. Some of the seeds or cuttings that are provided can also produce new seeds or have a cut taken off when they have grown to create a new plant allowing for a long-term food source.
 
Informative visual cards
These cards use visual aids (key for those who may not be able to read or write) to explain the importance of nutritional balance, how long it will take to grow specific seeds in the rural areas of the Ibanda district and also the optimal way to grow them (such as a growing season calendar specific to Uganda). It will also include cards to show how to make the necessary tools to grow these crops using things that can be found in the Ibanda district.
 
A nutritionist lecturer
This person would come and inform the village adults on the pack and its contents, then teach them how to use it, leading them to become community nutritionists for the village who can then go on to help inform and distribute these packs to the families there. This allows them to grow these crops with their children and inform them about the process and why it’s important.
 
After the crops have grown, families can share and trade them between each other encouraging for a more social and knowledgeable village where they can go on to implement the skills they learn from this pack in other aspects of the community.
 

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

Parents and children from isolated villages in parts of central and south Uganda (specifically people from the rural areas of the Ibanda district), where there are high malnutrition levels/ who do not have easy access to cheap and healthy food sources. By having the parent and child grow the crop together, they learn the key foundation skills to getting the best out of these crops and also enhance their existing skills further. The crops they grow will help build towards a healthier diet for the family and community as a whole. They could then go on to apply these skills in new ways around the community.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

Prototype the pack to see how effective the visual instructions and diagrams would be. This can then be shown to others to see if they understand how the kit works and what it does just through its visuals. 02/12/2014 This idea could be tested in a nursery. We could give the children t leaflets that have the knowledge about, what crop is good for what part of the body and see how effective our illustrations are.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

Nutritionist/soil experts who would know what type of crops would be best grown in Uganda and the specific areas there. Help from volunteers who can go and speak in these countries as the nutritionist lecturer. Help from Organisations that include Unicef and African Nutrician Security Partnership who are currently doing live projects in parts of Uganda. By having projects already set up there, they could help further develop the pack through their first hand experiences and also help to get these packs distributed in the rural areas Ibanda district. Organisations on OpenIdeo like the Madrasa Early Childhood Program and LifeNet International would have to be approached to see if the could help in executing this project.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am looking for partners that might be interested in taking this idea forward in their communities.

23 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Charlotte Norris
Team

How can you develop the imagery to be more visually descriptive? I love the concept of growing vegetables and enabling people to be self-sufficient in nourishing themselves and being aware of healthy eating. How would the seeds be packaged and distributed?

Photo of Khushwant Kasba
Team

Why not test the idea out, near the teams local school, with kids of a similar age first and see the result before going to Uganda

Photo of Vishagan Baskaramoorthy
Team

Good advice, as its around 4 where most kids here start to enter into the basic level of education. Therefore prior to this, kids at these ages across all countries would have about roughly the same level of knowledge. Perhaps kindergarten or a nursery would be an ideal place to test this out.

Photo of Felipe Bottrel
Team

Interesting idea! I found that this other team has came up with a related concept, and maybe you can share helpful insights and possibly set a work collaboration in the nutrition/gardening/information/family field.

https://openideo.com/challenge/zero-to-five/ideas/shared-voices

Photo of Yee Ting (Christy) Chan
Team

Thank you Felipe, there are alot of elements we can learn from the other team. it will help us alot on improving our idea! it also suggested us to have a wider thinking , not just looking at our own idea.

Photo of Juliana Dill Mello Martins
Team

Hey guys, great idea!! It's very positive the way you combined the home cultivation with the socialization, encouraging families to act together as a community. This way they can exchange knowledge and even prepare some receipts together, why not? Have you thought about a wider range of food (seeds and crops)? And what about the packs, do they all have the same seeds and crops? Maybe if you create different packs, with different variations of seeds in each, it would encourage even more the interaction between families. Good luck with the project!
Cheers!

Photo of Jéssica Casagrande
Team

Hey Juliana! Really good thought! We're working to find a wider range of seeds and crops that grows in the Uganda's soil. And about the different packs to improve the interaction between families, is a really good idea! we will work on it. Thanks for your contribution!

Photo of Ayman Hanafi
Team

Some good thinking Divya. This will take some work and effort but would be a marvellous achievement. There are plastic vegetables available here used to teach bi-lingual children. They look real and have names like Colin Carrot, Billy Broccoli etc. Children have lots of fun playing with them. Maybe this could be a way of getting people curious and then interested in learning how to grow them and then on to nutrition. Best of luck!

Photo of Divya  Hirani
Team

Thank you for your comment...
Yes that's a very good point because it uses rhyming to get the children more excited bout it... They could also tell a story with those vegetables and those could be used as a guide to show them that's this is what its meant to look like when it ready to eat.

Photo of Kastriot Hasani
Team

Great concept guys. Maybe another way of testing this idea out quickly is to give it to people who do not speak English very well to see if they understand the visuals of your concept. Once they have a clear understanding of your idea then you know it could work in rural areas of Uganda.

Photo of Divya  Hirani
Team

Thank you, yh we could also send it to participants that have English as their second language and see how they respond.

Photo of Betul Salman
Team

Thank you Kastroit, we will also try to make it where the pictures speak the words so it could be understood by anyone.

Photo of Petrit Kasabaqi
Team

great work guys, I think the name Grow your future reflects what your trying to achieve well and encapsulates your idea superbly. However maybe you could make your main image a bit more engaging, think about how to communicate your brilliant idea with as little text as possible. One quick idea which came to my mind was maybe you could have a few plants with roots going into the soil and each plant or flower at the top will have a letter to make future. So it will have bold text saying -GROW YOUR- and then

F-U-T-U-R-E
I I I I I I
I I I I I I
---------------
It's not the best idea but it was just a quick thought.

Also I would advise you to take into account the shelf life of certain foods and how perishable they are. If something is perishable it means it has a limited shelf life and will die or decay after some time. For example planting a banana bulb or rhizome (bananas do not grow from a seed) in Ibanda may not be as effective in combating malnutrition as planting a rice plant. why is this? because a banana has a shelf life of up to nine days if refrigerated and up to seven if not. Those in the Ibanda district do not own refrigerators which means their bananas will only last a week. Choosing the banana plant becomes even less appealing when you consider the fact that a banana plant takes 9 months minimum to grow, so effectively you are waiting nine months for food that will only last a week. On the contrary white rice is not perishable which means it can potentially last forever when kept free from contaminants and can be stored for very very long periods of time. This means people can eat it when they like and it will benefit them longer. Also it takes three to six months to grow rice so your waiting less time for food that could last you a lifetime! And as Julia said it has carbohydrates and vitamins. So think about this as well and consider carefully which seeds will benefit those in Ibanda the most in the long run as well as the short run.

Last but not least do some research into GM (genetically modified crops). These are basically crops which have been altered to perform better and to withstand certain conditions and viruses, this could be one solution to making perishable foods last longer. One article by the Univerisity of Michigan (http://sitemaker.umich.edu/sec006group5/africa) states that:

For Africa the benefits outweigh the costs. Keep in mind that genetically modified crops help increase yields and reduce input costs (Stoddard 2006). Thus, growing more food in less time, with less money, and labor. This could be a huge step towards a solution to end starvation in Africa . These foods will not only produce to be more in quantity but can also have a longer shelf life with less labor and natural materials (water, soil, and energy) to produce (Lei 2007). These modified food crops can produce the needed better nutritional foods that African people need. It gives an increase in food security for the developing and starving Africa .

Please also have a read of this article by the united nations university about gm food. http://unu.edu/publications/articles/are-transgenic-crops-safe-gm-agriculture-in-africa.html

Here is a list of other foods which are not perishable-
http://www.stilltasty.com/articles/view/35

Anyway I hope this helped.

Photo of Vishagan Baskaramoorthy
Team

Perhaps we should consider a more effective image and your example sounds like it would really get our idea across in a clear and concise way, thanks. "Shelf life" is something we have considered and that is why we want nutritionists/soil experts to help choose more effective seeds for the environment. As we mentioned we plan to include seeds that have a range of different growing periods so the village does not have to wait too long for a sustainable food source. The genetically modified crops is a very interesting area we haven't considered and could look into, as some of the issues we encountered could be solved through this. The only concern as you mentioned, are the costs/risks; some further research into GM crops should give us a better understanding of how to proceed. Very useful insights to explore Petrit, thanks for your input!

Photo of Betul Salman
Team

Petrit thank you for your ideas!
I think GM is a good idea when trying to make plants grow faster and better, we will defiantly look into this!
so maybe we can educate them more about it seeing that we are now more able to make more food than 100 years ago even due to the fact that our population had grown.

Photo of Julia Starzyk
Team

Hi Guys. Idea is potentially really powerfull. Its fairly simple, not expensive and to be honest can be done nearly everywhere. I think you should slightly tweek the content and then its ready for testing. At the moment your seeds list seems to be a bit accidental. Obviously you are not going to grow a banana or sweet potato in a tiny paper box. But spinach - why not? Also probably you need to find out what nutricion are these plants giving to a body. For example: rice and spinach. Rice has a lot of carbohydrates and vitamnis, can be eaten daily and will give you all nutricion you need to survive. Spinach have low nutrition value, loads of vitamins but should not be eaten daily because it has oxalic accid. So you need to be very very carefull with selection of plants and nutrician values it will give to society. Especially when society is lacking of proper food. Why dont you contact some nutricion or dietician to consult. Hope that this will help you with this as the idea itself is huge potential.

Photo of Vishagan Baskaramoorthy
Team

Yes you are right, we have made simple illustrations (included as part of the informative nutritional cards) to accompany the seeds that visually show what benefits each type gives. We hope to get nutrition/soil experts to help select the most effective range of seeds to implement in the Ibanda District and also to help with the importance of nutritional balance (as you mentioned). The box is meant to represent the packaging and how these kits will be distributed there and the seeds will then be planted in areas around the villages. Thanks for your input!

Photo of Ariadne Helen Quintino
Team

Hello team, your idea is great! I totally agree that this initiative of teaching people how to grow their own food is a good way to reduce malnutrition. I think at this point, as you describe, the important thing is to test how the visual boards directions works with different people from different cultures that you might know. So you could receive a great feedback to improve your project. Once again, I love your idea. Well done!

Photo of Vishagan Baskaramoorthy
Team

Yes, it is essential that these boards are clear instantly through the visuals alone, testing these out across people from different cultures and also a range of age groups should help narrow down towards the ideal/optimal visualizations for the boards. Thanks for your input!

Photo of Guy Viner
Team

Sounds like a fab idea, Divya. We’d encourage you to try some part of this idea out in order to evolve it effectively and share back your learnings here. Check out our tips on prototyping: http://bit.ly/pr0totype We’re excited about what human centered discoveries you’ll make towards strengthening your idea further!

Photo of Divya  Hirani
Team

Thank you for the great feedback will definitely check out the tips and will keep you posted on further developments.

=)

Photo of Happiness Team
Team

That's a really interesting and feasible idea. I think you can even find easily economic support from big agriculture corporations that are now a bit more focused on sustainability of their business compared to the past.

Photo of Divya  Hirani
Team

Thank you Happines Team. Yes there are companies like Unicef and African Nutrician Security Partnership, which are currently carrying out projects around Ugnada =]