Rural Grown Farms is a woman Led Agribusiness Enterprise Established in 2017 by Eswatini Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD). This project is driven by passion to contribute to the livelihood of fellow communities in Eswatini and the region. The project pilot was done in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Research Services and will be partnering with experienced youth out-growers and ESUS Farm for the digitalization of all youth farmers (doing a youth farmers portal) from Eswatini.
The enterprise actively engages youth in communities to be involved in growing crops that improve their nutritional status. These youth farmers will grow and sell their produce to a Community Enterprise (COE), which will be established in guidance of the project. The project intends to model Climate SmartFarming using Biofortified beans in selected areas and then roll-out to other areas that are have good growing conditions of beans. YPARD in the project will provide entrepreneurial skills capacity build to youth farmers whilst improving their nutritional status. ESUS Farm will offer digitalization under the project which will include registering all youth farmers in a youth farmers portal under the project, their locations, their land sizes. Monitoring of the farmers through the digital portal will be much easier to also help inform markets.
Health and good nutrition is key to the economy of Eswatini and the rest of the African continent, and hence they cannot contribute to the workforce if they are unhealthy and malnourished.
Where was the idea born?
Over two billion people around the world suffer from "hidden hunger" or micronutrient deficiencies. They do not get enough micronutrients from the foods they eat to lead healthy, productive lives. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, zinc, and iron as recommended by WHO. Although they are only required by the body in very small amounts, they are essential to good health and preventing illness. Many of the symptoms of micronutrient deficiencies cannot be seen — such as lower IQ, lower resistance to disease, and fatigue. This is why this form of malnutrition is known as "hidden hunger".
Iron deficiency is the most common micronutrient deficiency in the world and a leading cause of anaemia. Because global data for iron deficiency does not exist, anaemia is used as an indirect indicator.
Iron deficiency during childhood and adolescence impairs mental development and learning capacity. In adults, it reduces the ability to do physical labour. Severe anaemia increases the risk of women dying in childbirth.
Reducing Iron Deficiency
Biofortified beans contain up to twice the amount of iron as common varieties.
High-iron beans prevent and reverse iron deficiency in young women. When eaten twice daily, they can provide up to 75 % of a women's daily iron needs and in school-age children iron improves their cognitive performance
Agriculture is the large contributor to job creation in the Kingdom of Eswatini. With the focal point being women and youth, Rural Grown has already created more than 15 jobs and with this investment Rural Grown is targeting to impact even more women and the youth to create more than 50 job opportunities from production, warehousing and packaging, logistics. This will increase productivity of the bio-fortified beans consumption which will help control the dire situation of iron deficiency among children and women of reproductive age. Not only will this initiative tackle the issue of nutrition deficiencies but also improve the economic status and well-being of households.
Right now the project counts with an hectare of land for building center of excellence.