Organic Food Festival tackles bad nutrition

The country’s first organic and traditional food festival will promote diverse and nutritious local foods in a bid to resist the imposition of harmful and unsustainable food systems being pushed on citizens by a very well-resourced food industry.

Some of the foods to be exhibited at the festival.
Some of the foods to be exhibited at the festival.

The Traditional and Organic Food Festival kicks off next week, organised by Bio- Innovation Zimbabwe in partnership with several civil society organisations and government departments such as the Food and Nutrition Council and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.

“Over the years, people seem to have lost the knowledge about the diversity of available foods. We want to recover that and raise awareness on the importance of consuming traditional foods,” said BIZ Projects Manager, Caroline Jacquet.

Jacquet said that because most people had forgotten the benefits that come with consuming traditional foods, the event would promote the consumption of these ‘forgotten foods’ especially as an intervention to avert obesity and stunting among children.

According to a recent joint presentation by the agricultural ministry and the Food Agricultural Organisation and the World Food Programme, 56 percent of children aged under five are anaemic.

A third of these children are stunted: meaning that their growth rate and cognitive development is reduced because of malnutrition in early childhood, including during foetal development brought on by them by malnourished mothers.

BIZ attributes the sharp increase in diseases like diabetes to bad eating habits. “Diabetes is moving towards epidemic proportions across the African continent, in line with the rest of the world.

“It is time to start celebrating our food, good, healthy, wholesome, traditional food that is produced in a way that enhances the health of the ecosystem rather than damaging it and that benefits farmers in a fair way,” stated BIZ in a statement, adding that:

“An unhealthy diet leads to problems at both ends of the economic ladder. However, small-scale farmers can produce a variety of traditional and healthy foods.”

The traditional food festival also seeks to foster increased collaboration between farmers and consumers. “Currently, fertilisers and pesticides are the basis for production but they damage ecosystems and are unsustainable for a variety of reasons. They produce less nutritious food, especially when combined with seed breeding that narrows the genetic diversity,” says the organisation.

The festival will be attended by farmers from Chimanimani, Chivi, Mutoko, and different parts of Matabeleland, NGOs such as the Diabetes Association of Zimbabwe, Chikukwa Ecological Land Use Management Trust, Community Technology Development Organisation, Cluster Agricultural Development Services and Jekesa Pfungwa/ Vulingqondo/ as well as the ministries of health, commerce, agriculture and women’s affairs.

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