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By: Roy Danforth and Paul Noren
Published: 2011-01-20

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Over the past 30 plus years that we have been working with small-scale farmers in Central Africa, we have enjoyed the wonderful lushness of its forests, savannahs, and rivers. In addition, we have been privileged to get to know some of the many people groups, with their different cultures and languages, of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR), and Cameroon.

But, despite the appearance of a tropical paradise, life in Central Africa is harsh. Most Central Africans are dependent on their own fields and gardens for survival. Though they are very good farmers and work hard to make ends meet, farming for survival has always been a difficult and time-consuming task. Any change in their farming method that requires extra finances or time is virtually impossible.

Regardless of the fact that food security is the main preoccupation of nearly all Central Africans, they are not quite able to achieve it. Malnutrition and poor health are therefore an inevitable result. A study by Doctors Without Borders, at our hospital in Gamboula, CAR, confirmed this situation. Results showed that 8%-12% of children under the age of five in this area are severely malnourished. This crisis situation deserves the attention of the local as well as the international community. By working together, appropriate solutions to the problem can be found. The introduction of new crops provides potential to facilitate such solutions.