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Climate-smart and nutrition-sensitive agriculture encouraged

Climate-smart and nutrition-sensitive agriculture encouraged

Story by Abigirl Tembo

WITH climate change threatening the world’s ability to produce enough nutritious food, farmers are being encouraged to adapt and over the years, Zimbabwe has made great strides in fighting hunger and malnutrition through promoting nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems.

While speaking during a food and nutrition strategic review meeting in Hwange, Food and Nutrition Council Director General Dr. George Kembo said multi-sectoral programmes being implemented by the government have resulted in improved nutrition status for the country.

“Zimbabwe as a country is one of the few countries actually within southern Africa, and Africa, it has been identified by the United Nations as one of the few countries moving towards fulfilling the 2025 world health targets of reducing all forms of malnutrition and am excited that we are doing all efforts to address malnutrition. When we committed to address malnutrition we were at around 27% stunting which is one of the problematic outcome indicators for malnutrition. Currently, we have gone down to about 23% which is at the national level. In a lot of districts, malnutrition has also improved because of the different interventions that we are doing,” he said.

For the country to maintain its nutrition status in the face of climate change, Dr Kembo noted that local farmers need to adopt the production of traditional grains.

“Climate change is bringing its challenges in terms of affecting the nutrition status of any nation, but you also need to recognise that as a country we were more proactive. We have been pushing for the production of small grains whose micronutrient content is believed to be more enhanced because we are going for the traditional grains which can be, are tolerant to climate-related challenges we see that if we can produce them in significant quantities, we can also realise the benefits that are being brought by climate change because we will have more diversity.”

“What we need to ensure and manage is moving away from daily consumption of cereal and you recognise that in Zimbabwe statistically during drought years those districts that also scavenge for different kinds of food and eat everything that they found out would also have better nutrition outcomes because they end up having diversity. They also engage in fruit consumption, which is more important for the human body. They also engage in the consumption of varied traditional vegetables and foods which are also complementary to the nutritional requirements of the human body,” he reiterated.

The government through the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development has put in place various programmes to ensure the country is on track towards ending hunger and malnutrition.

Initiatives such as Pfumvudza/Intwasa and the Presidential Livestock Scheme have over the years ensured food self-sufficiency at the household level.

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