Lynn Munjanja in Mudzi
Farmers in Mudzi have adopted traditional grains in place of maize due to their high nutritional value and low cost of production.
This comes at a time when maize has become popular among many farmers even those in dry areas despite the fact that these traditional crops are highly nutritious and also perform well even under dry conditions.
Maize and other cash crops are now being produced at a large scale while traditional crops are grown by a few at a small scale.
This has been caused by a lack of knowledge on the nutritional value of the traditional crops, unviable markets and difficulties in processing when people want to prepare the food.
Farmers in Mudzi, Mashonaland East, have started promoting the production of traditional crops with assistance from the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) under the Bract programme (Building Resilience through improving the absorptive and Adaptive Capacity for the transformation of a risk community).
The farmers said they were thankful for the educative programmes which they had received from ZRBF because they are now able to survive without maize as their staple food.
Mercy Ndemera said her family now prefers traditional grains meals. She demonstrated how she prepares porridge for her children using traditional grains and baobabs.
“I am very thankful for this programme which was introduced to us because we had never considered farming anything else besides maize.
“My family enjoys meals which I prepare for them because we now have a variety of options which includes sorghum, millet, rapoko amongst others,” she said.
Dickson Chikuhuho said he has since increased his clientele base as he is now selling traditional grains to various markets.
” When I started growing traditional grains, I acquired more clients because I now sell different things as compared to when I was only selling maize. My business is growing and I’m very thankful for the ZRBF programme,” he said.
The programme has also supported the use of labour-saving technologies to reduce work associated with the processing of traditional grains by facilitating access to mechanical threshers, fodder cutting machines and herbicide technology for weed management.
Mudzi district Agritex officer Bright Chanakira said traditional grains are the way to go because they are drought resistant.
“Families are living healthier nowadays. It is pleasing that farmers took heed of these programmes and adopted traditional grains”.
The Government is also promoting the production of traditional grains by offering viable prices for the crop.