Iowa State University's Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods has received a $100,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of Monsanto Company. The money will go to improving nutrition in rural Uganda by raising livestock and establishing school gardens.

"The support from the Monsanto Fund is welcome and important because it will help us move beyond the pilot stage and allow us to scale up both livestock and school garden programs in the Kamuli District of Uganda, an area where 82 percent of the people rely on subsistence farming," says Robert Mazur, director of the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods.

"By focusing on farms and schools, this project will benefit both families at home and children at school," says Deborah Patterson, president of Monsanto Fund. "Iowa State's project with livestock and gardens will help bridge the gap between peoples' needs and available resources in rural Uganda."

Livestock production is an increasingly important part of the effort and is led by Max Rothschild, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences in Animal Science and the M.E. Ensminger International Chair.

“Animal agriculture creates opportunities for households in Uganda to access milk, eggs and meat. It also can provide an income so families can pay for basic needs such as school fees and medical expenses," Rothschild notes. “Our plan is to equip more than 100 households with the knowledge and supplies needed to begin small-scale chicken and pig operations. We’ll also provide seed corn to plant so that livestock can receive adequate nutrition.”

Iowa State will establish gardens at six primary schools that average more than 500 students each. The gardens will not only provide an outdoor classroom for agricultural and science education, but more importantly will supplement the meager meals offered to students. A common school lunch in the Kamuli District is a cup of maize porridge, which, for some students, is the only meal they'll have that day.

"The students learn agricultural practices in the school gardens and transfer the knowledge home to their families’ small farms and even to their own small gardens,” said Gail Nonnecke, professor of horticulture. “The Monsanto Fund grant will help us provide the critical hand tools, seeds and plants for the school gardens, which ultimately affects student learning and their future livelihoods.”

Since 2004, ongoing collaboration of the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods, Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, and VEDCO, an indigenous nongovernmental organization, have worked to improve food security and market readiness among 800 farm households in Uganda. For more information, go to www.srl.ag.iastate.edu.

The Monsanto Fund, established in 1964, provides support in four focus areas: Nutritional Improvement through Agriculture; Healthy Environment; Science Education; and Our Communities. For more information on the Monsanto Fund, go to www.monsantofund.org.

Source: Iowa State University