Like millions of teenagers around the world, Daniel has a dream: to help make the world a better place. At the age of 16, Daniel recognized one of Zambia's most significant challenges: food systems – the paths that food travels from production to plate – are not robust enough to meet the population's needs.
Daniel first learnt about hydroponics when the World Food Programme (WFP) came to his school to set up a hydroponics garden collaborating with the Ministry of Education. These gardens provide nutritious meals to students throughout the year without the threat of climate shocks - making a difference to children's health, nutrition and education. With the hope of tackling Zambia’s food system problem and growing nutritious food for his family in a sustainable way, Daniel decided to take the knowledge he learnt from school and replicate the hydroponics site at home.
Watch here Daniel’s story in hydroponics
Mweendo heads Cassia Agro, one of the 13 aggregators and farmer cooperatives the World Food Programme works with in Zambia to procure cowpeas and beans for its programmes in the southern Africa region. Based in Monze district, Mweendo works with WFP to procure pulses from smallholder farmers and to supply airtight hermetic bags – a low-cost, post-harvest innovation that reduces food losses by up to 40 percent in the country.
“It gives me peace and comfort to know that the food we are providing to WFP supports vulnerable people. It’s a privilege to support their programmes.” says Mweendo.
Food is procured from Mweendo under WFP’s global commodity management platform, allowing and purchased in advance of project requests. This reduces delivery lead times and helps aggregators and farmers to plan their production better.
In Eswatini, the beans were provided as part of WFP’s emergency response in the Lubombo region, providing monthly food distributions to nearly 35,000 people struggling to put food on the table due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, limited job opportunities, and high food prices.
Lungelo is one of the people who received 5kg of beans from Zambia and 10 kg of rice, and half a litre of cooking oil. He became the head of his household at 15 years old when his mother left their family to pursue a job. He dropped out of school to care for his 78-year-old grandmother living with tuberculosis and his 13-year-old sister.
“There were days we would go to bed on empty stomachs to avoid asking for food from our neighbours.” he says.
Lungelo found a seasonal job at a local sugar factory, but this didn’t cover all his family’s needs. Now, the food he receives from WFP is helping him to support his family.
“With my seasonal job and the food from WFP, we can lead better and decent lives. We received the beans when we needed them the most. Now, I don’t have to worry about my family going to bed hungry.” he says.
His sister, Tengetile, is a big fan of the beans. “I can’t believe these beans come from Zambia; it’s so far. I will carry five beans seeds to school to show my friends, and maybe we can plant them during our science project on germination.” she says.
“Our teacher told us that beans are body-building food. I can get the same nutrients found in meat. So even if I don’t get to eat meat all the time, I will still be healthy.” she adds.
Read about more innovations that are improving people's life in Zambia