The John Hopkins University (JHU) Research Team from United States of America (USA), has declared that Mkushi district was on the verge of making history from the on-going Vitamin enriched Orange Maize research project.
The Project’s Scientist Dr. Amanda Parmer told ZANIS that the research project was centered on a variety of Orange Maize which had been enriched with Vitamin A and better Carotene.
Dr. Parmer reaffirmed that the objective of the research was to find out if this Orange Maize variety could address what she termed as a widespread deficiency of Vitamin A, mostly amongst children.
She mentioned that the JHU Research Team had selected to pilot this project in Mkushi, adding that activities involving comparative effects of Nshima made from the orange maize against the common white maize nshima, had commenced in the district 4 months ago.
She explained that JHU had been conducting feeding exercises in various communities of this district over the past 4 months, saying that 2,000 children had been receiving daily Nshima made from vitamin A enriched orange maize.
She said that groups of children aged between 4 to 7 years, were being fed with orange maize nshima, whilst another group of children were being fed with white for comparative purpose.
Dr. Parmer said the research project’s feeding exercise had been earmarked to last for 6 months, saying that things were looking positive as the research awaited to conclude it findings from comparative feeding tests in March 2013.
She further mentioned that JHU’s attachment with Mkushi stretched back to 2009, when JHU’s preliminary research findings indicated that 54% of children in this district had deficiencies of Vitamin A.
She said that to this effect, JHU had piloted the research project in this district by using nshima made from Orange maize enriched with better Carotene, in the quest to find a lasting solution for Vitamin A deficiency.
Dr. Parmer said that there had been no reports of health disturbances or side effects regarding the children participating in the Orange maize feeding activities so far, adding that JHU was confident that Mkushi would make history from the project.
And JHU’s Project Investigator Professor Rolf Kemm observed that the cooperation from leadership and the community in Mkushi, had been played important part in helping to smoothen the operations of the research project.
Professor Kemm said that no project could succeed without the cooperation of local leadership and communities.
He said that JHU would continue to build on the trust and confidence shown by Mkushi residents, saying that JHU would uphold a credibility , transparency and objectivity in this research project.
Meanwhile, Mkushi Council Secretary (CS) Everty Ng’andu described the on-going research as beneficial for the district and the nation as whole.
Mr. Ng’andu, who represented Mkushi’s District Commissioner(DC) Christopher Chibuye, said that development could not be completed without science.
He said that it was therefore imperative for leadership as well as communities of the district to accord this scientific research project as much cooperation as possible.
JHU commenced its research operations for Vitamin A enriched Orange maize in November last year, and had been conducting feeding activities for children in more than 20 communities.