Extension nutrition specialist volunteers in Nigeria

  • Thursday, January 27, 2011

     

    PRINCESS ANNE, MD - (Jan. 20, 2011)Some 250 Nigerian women now know how to process yam and local cereals into flour to feed malnourished children in the Africa nation.  Such was the mission of Dr. Virginie Zoumenou, certified nutrition specialist, licensed dietitian and 1890 Family Consumer Science program leader at UMES.

    A farmer-to-farmer assignment led Zoumenou to serve as a Winrock International Volunteer in Nigeria. Hands-on training sessions were held over a three-week period for caregivers of HIV/AIDS orphans and vulnerable children with the goal of showing them new skills to increase their income and provide children with nutritious food. 

    Participants ranged in age from six to 60. Funded by the USAID, Winrock International and EUCORD/WEWE/Children of Hope organizations, the workshops targeted caregivers of HIV/AIDS orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).      

    The first workshop taught participants how to process local yams into flour. The women learned about the drying process, milling techniques and packaging. Many expressed excitement over learning new techniques, because they generally fried or boiled yams. The second workshop also garnered much enthusiasm. The women had been using maize or corn when making gruel to feed their children.  They also stated the "Grand Vita" flour for malnourished children, provided by USAID, was running out.

    As a result, showing adults how to process locally grown cereal into flour was of great importance. Until the training, the caregivers were unaware they could feed their children with flour made from combined local cereals.         

    The women also learned the importance of sieving, frying, milling, packaging and finally cooking the cereal flour into porridge.  They became aware of the health benefits of processing combined local cereals into flour for their children.  

    The new flour reminded them of "Cerelac," an imported instant cereal they buy at the market. The women named their flour, "Flour for Stronger Children." Overall, the caregivers said these new skills empowered them to help themselves and their children - now and in the future. 

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    Suzanne Waters Street, agriculture communication specialist, UMES - University of Maryland Extension, 410-651-6084, sstreet@umes.edu.

    Caption:  Dr. Virginie Zoumenou instructs Nigerian caregivers on the yam drying process.