DONATA & RAILS in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): President Kabila allocates 500 hectares of land for production of Quality Protein Maize (QPM)
The DRC is one of the 34 African countries involved in the Promotion of Science & Technology for Agricultural Development in Africa (PSTAD) project funded by the African Development Bank, and coordinated by FARA through its DONATA and RAILS initiatives, in collaboration with its member Sub-regional Organizations (ASARECA, CORAF/WECARD, and SADC-FANR, now CCARDESA). The PSTAD project is aimed at building the African agricultural research knowledge management capacity and to support the dissemination and adoption of new and proven agricultural technologies in the target countries.
A 2-day QPM meeting was held in Kinshasa. The aim of the event was to sensitize people on QPM benefits and QPM value chain. At such events, different medias are invited and they broadcast the information on different channels. When doing that a certain evening, President Kabila was watching TV and realized something interesting was going on at INERA office. He then called one of his advisors in charge of agricultural issues to attend the second day meeting. When he came, he was given all details, the purpose and the expectations of the event. He attended for some time and reported back to the President. President Joseph Kabila then decided to allocate 500 hectares of land to scientists of Institut National Pour l'Etude et la Recherche Agronomiques (INERA) to plant quality protein maize (QPM) breeder and foundation seed for distribution across Democratic Republic of Congo, and for grain production and processing. He plans to allocate 1000 more hectares to this endeavour. His government is buying QPM seed and distributing to other parts of the country. For this season (2013), his Agricultural Department has requested for 1000 kg of QPM seed for his own farm. The ministry of health has joined in the promotion of QPM in 3 districts - Gandajika, Lwilu and Mweneditu. The health ministry is adding QPM diets to medical prescription for patients substituting soybean which is almost 3 times more expensive than QPM and unaffordable for most people. The health ministry used QPM to revive thousands of children who were on the verge of death from malnutrition and hundreds of lactating mothers with breast milk outflow problems. In Lwilu district, physicians recommend QPM for fast recovery of wounds after surgical operations.
In certain parts of DRC, farmers only want to buy maize if it is QPM, hence certification of QPM becoming important. In villages such as Nsana Mpiana and Tshibondobondo, the population agreed to avail 26 hectares for QPM production only. In some areas such as in Lwilu IPTA, QPM diet has become a special diet for big celebrations (weddings, Christian events, etc.). Those who don’t use QPM at such these events are considered to be of lower social standing.
Children group for QPM promotion: “From the proof of the nutritional value of QPM, some ladies have taught children (12-15 years old) how to use QPM and convinced them to grow QPM and they have their own QPM field. They have a song that tells everybody to grow only QPM”.
|Outside the nutritional center in Gandajika (about 1,375 km from Kinshasa)|
|At the nutrition centre. mothers and their healthy children fed on QPM meals|
|Mothers await their rations of QPM products – flour and cookies|
|Mothers pose with their babies at the center|
|Children perform the QPM Song|
From QPM benefits experienced by users and shared through radios, advertisements ...,
- the Catholic Relief Service(CRS) an American NGO based in North-Kivu Province has heard about of QPM benefits through radios, informal exchange...They sent one of their staff members to Mvuazi (Western part of DRC) to purchase 400 kg of 2 QPM varieties(MUDISHI 1 and MUDISHI 3) for their promotion in North-Kivu Province
- A Catholic church in Tshela (Western part of DRC bordering Angola) has as well heard about QPM through IPTA sensitization meeting. They took that opportunity to request for seed in order to produce QPM and combat malnutrition in Tshela area where they deal with orphans.
- In Mweneditu IPTA, partners started shifting from imported chicken feeds to locally made QPM-based feeds which is cheaper but still effective. Imported chicken feed cost US$ 720 to raise 100 chickens while QPM-based feed requires only needs US$ 500 to raise the same number of chicken to maturity. Partners have realized that it is more profitable to use QPM as chicken feed compared to selling it as grain on the market. QPM worth US$ 500 on the grain market brings in US$ 1000 when used as chicken feed. Broilers keepers have now been linked to QPM grain producers. This new found market has encouraged QPM grain producers to grow more maize. In Kinshasa, partners have started using QPM instead of MIDEMA poultry feed.
AFPALU group in Mweneditu using QPM to feed poultry and sharing experiences. When they were using QPM, the chickens were performing. However, when they were out of stock and get back to normal maize, they realized chickens no longer wanted to eat normal maize. Some chickens died. They then got in touch with a QPM grain producer to supply them and the chickens started eating.
A group of Catholic community of “Soeurs de Notre Dame de la Grace” in Luputa sharing experiences of the advantages of QPM as a poultry feed.
- Mr Moise, a doctor at Gandajika hospital is used to provide Plumpy’nut to children suffering from malnutrition. Unfortunately the supply is always insufficient. He then refers to the IPTA for supplying the hospital with QPM for malnourished children rehabilitation.
- The University of Kikwit and nutrition centers in Kikwit (DRC Western part) have heard about QPM. They got in touch with the ASARECA National Focal Point and expressed the interest to promote QPM. 11 Students have developed proposals on QPM for its promotion in Kikwit area. A new IPTA will be set there at the end of July 2013 to catalyze QPM promotion in that area.
- UN Radio in Kinshasa is used to invite the DONATA Focal Point in DRC for a 30 minutes radio programme listened through the whole country. This contributes to create awareness.
Based on country acreage, more support is needed for more coverage and more impact.
Learn more about PSTAD activities on QPM in DRC