Mukudzei Chingwere in ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire
Zimbabwe has come a long way from a position of hunger and food insufficiency through strategic planning by Government and nutritional improvement is the next frontier with which authorities are working, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said having guaranteed food for all, President Mnangagwa is priming the Government to go a step further and make sure that the available food is not only enough but of the best quality and nutrition.
To this end, the President has appointed a Cabinet committee on food and nutrition which is chaired by Vice President and Minister of Health Dr Constantino Chiwenga.
Minister Masuka is here, representing VP Chiwenga, for the High-Level Meeting on the Theme of the African Year of Nutrition 2022, a platform that allows participating countries to collaborate and share notes on progress made in food security and the attainment of global nutritional targets.
“Nutrition is a human capital issue that with adequate nutrition it means that you can have a robust population than can then be able to do the things you want them to do.
“So, participation at this high-level nutrition summit will enable Zimbabwe to share experiences with other countries.
“We will also be able to assist ourselves, gather experiences from others and see how well they are doing versus what we are doing.
“I think in the long run Zimbabwe is emerging from food insecurity to food security and therefore the nutrition aspects are key to what Zimbabwe ought to be doing into the future,” said Minister Masuka.
Zimbabwe has put in place mechanisms to ensure that first the food is grown, to which Zimbabwe has now recorded a record wheat harvest this season, unprecedented in history.
The country is guided by National Development Strategy 1 which has a thematic area on food security and nutrition.
Minister Masuka’s assertion was further buttressed by a nutritionist with the Food and Nutrition Council, Ms Siboniso Chigova who, earlier on, told a meeting of experts that Zimbabwe was past the sufficient stage and onto nutritional value.
She said having successfully guaranteed national food security, Zimbabwe is now focusing on improving nutrition through Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture and Food Systems and promoting the production of biofortified crops.
The thrust to improve the diet of the citizenry which conforms to the nutritional mandate follows a rigorous and successful implementation of robust agricultural transformation programmes by the Second Republic which ensured that there is a sufficient supply of food in the country.
Ms Chigova said Zimbabwe was now encouraging and supporting farmers to pursue nutrition-sensitive agriculture which includes fruit trees, livestock rearing and increasing the production of bio-fortified varieties.
“We have come up with Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture and Food Systems. As a country we have developed bio-fortified varieties,” Ms Chigova told African peers.
“We are promoting the production of biofortified crops across all sectors. We have some programmes that have been distributing bio-fortified seeds to smallholder farmers in irrigation schemes for production.
“As a country, we are also distributing 10 fruit trees per every household under the Presidential Horticulture scheme,” said Ms Chigova.
She noted that there is also the development of 35 000 village nutrition gardens under the Presidential horticulture initiative.
There is also a targeted distribution of livestock to smallholder farmers like goats and indigenous chicken under the Presidential Poultry and the Presidential Goat Scheme.
“Promoting production and consumption of fish through the implementation of the Presidential Fisheries Programme, where the Ministry of agriculture is stocking all dams and night storage dams and ponds with fingerlings to promote the production of fish,” said Ms Chigova.