The following YouTube video could very well have been about malnutrition, especially among women of child-bearing age and children, in the Philippines and how the cultivation and consumption of soybean products would alleviate the situation.
Why there is little initiative to expand the growing of soybeans (beyond using it primarily as feed for livestock) is difficult to comprehend. Our rapid population growth and crippling economic problems have reduced living standards and adversely affected eating habits, causing widespread malnutrition in most rural areas and the poor fringes of urban areas.
In “An effort to promote the production and consumption of soybeans as a means of improving nutrition in Nigeria“, an initiative was started back in 1987 by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), under the guidance of Principal Researcher Dr. Kenton Dashiell, to launch an ambitious effort in Nigeria to combat widespread malnutrition. With support from the International Development Research Centre, IITA embarked on a project to encourage and integrate the use of nutritious, economical soybeans in everyday food. It was important to impress upon the people that soybeans are about 40% protein–more protein-rich than any of the common vegetable or animal food sources found in Africa. With the addition of corn, sorghum, wheat, rice, or any other cereal to soybeans, the resulting protein meets the standards of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Soybeans also contain about 20% oil, which is 85% unsaturated and cholesterol free.
The average Filipino diet is light on protein sources largely because the traditional sources, like meat, fish, and eggs are expensive. To improve on our protein intake, I believe the government should seriously consider establishing a Philippine Soybean Initiative similar to the IITA initiative in Nigeria, and recently, the soybean initiative in Afghanistan.
Since soy bean is an annual plant, the impact of its cultivation is immediate. Could this be the solution to reduce or eliminate our malnutrition problem, the solution to improve the health of our child-bearing women and improve the brain development and health of our young and ultimately make Philippine educational reforms work?
The answer, of course, is obvious as we learned from the previous blog entry. “…studies conducted by the World Bank and the National Nutrition Council have shown that no amount of academic improvement projects will improve learning achievement when brain development and physical growth are stunted by the child’s unfavorable health and nutrition status.”