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Towards food nutrition improvement: Assessment of Farmers’ knowledge, perceptions and access to provitamin A-rich Maize in Tanzania

Selly D. Msungu, Arnold A. Mushongi, Pavithravani B. Venkataramana, Ernest R. Mbega

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Int. J. Biosci.21(5), 305-325, November 2015

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12692/ijb/21.5.305-325

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Abstract

Maize is an important staple food and income-generating crop in most regions of Tanzania. The crop provides calories and other important micronutrients including vitamin A. This study was conducted in 3 maize growing zones of Tanzania to assess farmers’ knowledge and perception on provitamin A-rich maize (proVAM). Purposive sampling technique was employed involving 366 respondents. The study observed that 55.2% of respondents were unaware of proVAM and mixed perceptions about proVAM were observed, where 38.5% of respondent perceived proVAM as livestock feed, 37.5% perceived proVAM as good nutritious food for children and adults, 18% of respondent perceived proVAM as food for low resource individuals, and only 7% of respondent perceived proVAM as suitable for HIV victims. The results show that growing proVAM, proVAM consumption, years of growing local varieties, and household size were major factors influencing farmers’ knowledge of proVAM. The study found lack of awareness and low adoption of proVAM were exacerbated by seed unavailability (53%), lack of knowledge on provitamin A maize (23%), high seed price (21%), and limited extension services (3%). The expression of interest by the majority of farmers in planting such proVAM guarantees its future production and use proVAM. The study findings conclude that farmers have a different understanding and mixed perceptions of proVAM. Thus, deliberate strategies are needed to ensure seed availability, increased proVAM acreage and increased proVAM consumption to reduce vitamin A deficiency prevalence among vulnerable groups.

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Towards food nutrition improvement: Assessment of Farmers’ knowledge, perceptions and access to provitamin A-rich Maize in Tanzania

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