BIKITA–Earthlore and Zimsoff with its partners held a successful seed and food fair in Chamas Garden Ward 1, Bikita East in Masvingo yesterday (12 September) The Midweek Watch can reveal.
The seed and food fair saw over 300 households or women around Bikita exhibiting their recipes, seeds and food competing for the best.
The fair mainly focused on promoting organic farming, processing and marketing of the produces and to uplift the welfare of smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe through participatory ecological land use planning and management.
Earthlore director, Method Gundidza told The Midweek Watch that this initiative is being done to support small scale farmers revive, multiply and propagate their own traditional seeds passed to them through many generations.
“This whole initiative which started a few years ago is meant to support small scale farmers revive, multiply and propagate their own traditional seeds passed to them through the generations and this year we are celebrating the revival of millet “Year of the millets” which was declared by UN FAO”, said Gundidza.
“This event is also meant to support communities to protect their wild biodiversity and protect Sacred Natural Sites drawing on local traditional knowledge that has been passed down through generations”.
Masvingo Provincial Agricultural Director, Nobert Masiwa commended the initiative being done by women in Bikita in partnership with various organisations because they are trying to curb poverty and counter climate change which has negatively affected food production in the world.
“We are very happy that villagers are trying to curb hunger in their respective communities and also the nation at large and we are grateful for those that are facilitating and coordinating these types of projects that uplift women in our country”, said Masiwa.
He went on to say that in as much the traditional grains are labour intensive and also prone to qualia birds they have made it a mandate as the Ministry to make a collective effort with ZIMPARKS in controlling the birds to the relief of the farmers.
“We have acquired drones that are going to be distributed to all the provinces and with the help of ZIMPARKS in controlling the birds that affect our farmer’s yields.
“We hope that we are going to have good harvest of our traditional grains”.
“We are therefore expecting to grow sorghum on 80 000h, 55 000h of millet and 25 000h of rapoko across Masvingo Province and we have advised those that want to grow maize that they should have water sources for irrigation otherwise if they rely on the natural rains, they are not going to get any good harvests this season due to envisaged El nino effect”.
Bikita district agriculture officer, Nobert Chiduza also reiterated that there is need to promote production, consumption and marketing of all traditional grains for them to be known and in his district, they are encouraging farmers to grow traditional grains which can give them more yields that can sustain them for the whole year at household level.
Graduate Mudyawabikwa the business and cooperative development officer under the Ministry of Women Affairs said that there has been a lot of positive feedback from these women.
The women are following what they are being taught hence there has been a lot of poverty reduction in the district and also encouraged men to be also engaged in community development to ease the burden on women and the girl child.
Joyce Mukaka of Dende garden in Mushanje Village under Chief Nechirorwe who has won several times in the competitions also told The Midweek Watch that these seed and food fair competitions have given women opportunities than to spend time wailing about hunger and poverty.
People from South Africa, Benin, Kenya, Uganda and those from around the country came to witness the fair and copy what was being done by the participants.
EarthLore, formerly Mupo Foundation, was formed in 2007 when communities were identified in South Africa who were concerned about the increasing loss of their indigenous knowledge and practices, especially amongst young people.