FEATURE STORY April 23, 2018

Samoan Kids ‘Eat a Rainbow’ for Healthier Lives

The Samoa Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Project is working with Samoan farmers to increase the amount and quality of local produce available in the country, while also collaborating with the Ministry of Health to encourage kids to eat all the colors of the rainbow.

World Bank Group


Story Highlights

  • The ‘Eat a Rainbow’ initiative is teaching school children the benefits of eating local produce of all the colors of the rainbow.
  • Samoa has a high prevalence of non-communicable diseases with poor diet among its main causes.
  • Healthier diets can help ease pressure on the health system, and increased consumption of local produce will strengthen Samoa’s economy.

Samoa is a country of natural abundance with high rainfall, rich soil and stable seasonal conditions that are perfect for growing fruits and vegetables. However, the prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases – often brought on by poor diets and processed foods – is extremely high in Samoa; among the highest in the world.

The WHO estimates that 70% of deaths in Samoa is caused by non-communicable diseases. This not only threatens lives, but also puts significant strain on the Samoan health system, posing serious long term economic risks for the country.


"Samoa is so blessed to have so much great locally-grown produce, And it’s not seasonal, you can have it right throughout the year, and it’s also cheap and healthy."
Sharon Suhren
Principal of Aoga Fiamalamalama School

Image

Healthier diets can help ease pressure on the health system, and increased consumption of local produce will strengthen Samoa’s economy.

 


School children learn to Eat a Rainbow for healthier lives

Considering the abundance of healthy alternatives being grown in the country, Samoa’s Ministry of Health developed the Eat a Rainbow initiative, that works with schools across Samoa to teach children the benefits of eating nutritious, local produce of all the colors of the rainbow and how a varied diet promotes healthy living.

“Samoa is so blessed to have so much [great locally-grown produce], said Sharon Suhren, the Principal of Aoga Fiamalamalama School. “And it’s not seasonal, you can have it right throughout the year, and it’s also cheap and healthy.”

She says she and teachers discuss with students the different fruit and vegetable options they have in Samoa, and their uses for making bodies stronger.

“We try and promote healthy living, healthy eating and eating the different colors of the rainbow. If they’re healthy; they’re also good at school.”


Supporting Samoan farmers’ efforts to improve local produce

The initiative is the result of a partnership between Samoa’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries which was fostered by the World Bank supported Samoan Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Program (SACEP).

SACEP works with local farmers to increase the amount and quality of local produce – aiming to increase the amount of locally grown healthy food getting from farms to plates throughout the country. This is being done through:

·       The promotion of higher yielding varieties

·       Encouraging the adoption of enhanced technology and production techniques,

·       Supporting productivity enhancing on-farm investments,

·       And strengthening market presence to meet the demands of local for year-round supplies of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Lafaele Enoka, SACEP Coordinator from the Samoan Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries says the project is about eating well, but also about strengthening the local market; so people eat local, and buy local.

“The primary focus of SACEP is to improve the productivity of local farmers, and take advantage of the local market situation,” he says.

The Ministry of Health’s work is a key aspect of this to ensure that children develop healthy eating habits that they take on to later life.

In addition to health benefits, healthy children are able to study harder, healthier diets will lead to a lower incidence of non-communicable diseases, easing pressure on the health system, and increased local production cuts down the amount of imported food, strengthening the Samoan economy. Considering that two out of every three Samoans work in the agricultural sector, this boost to the sector is an important part of Samoa’s continued growth.

Says Sharon Suhren, whose school has embraced the Eat a Rainbow initiative: “That’s what we’re trying to encourage to the students and their parents, making sure they have some of this in their diet each day. And when we have this we don’t even have to buy the stuff that’s imported from other countries.”


Api
Api