Looking to pull rural communities out of poverty through millets and sorghum, Zimbabwe’s First Lady, Ms Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, visited ICRISAT’s Matopos Research Station. Ms Mnangagwa emphasized research and the need for focus on climate smart crops that have high nutrition qualities to improve food and nutrition security.
The visit was part of a review of the small grains sector. She was accompanied on the visit by Mr Cdes Abednico Ncube and Ms Judith Ncube, Provincial Ministers for Matabeleland South and Bulawayo respectively, as well as the Small Grains Producers Association (SGPA) president Mr Basil Nyabadza.
ICRISAT and SGPA are partners in revamping a market-led production for food security, nutrition security and rural empowerment at village level. The event “Revamping small grains for food, nutrition and income security”, was attended by service chiefs, government officials, church representatives, farmers, research partners, traditional leaders and officials from ICRISAT, Distributed Power Africa (DPA), Cassava Smartech and Cold Storage Company (CSC).
The First Lady said prioritizing research will greatly impact households. “At least 70 percent of our farmers are either communal or small scale and they are affected badly by climate change. Food and nutrition security are vital for development,” she said, noting that her office was following up on the roadmap to implement a positive outcome in producing small grains to empower small scale farmers and increase nutrition levels in villages.
The identified focus crops include sorghum, millet, rapoko, groundnuts, sunflower, sugar beans, garlic, ginger and pepper. Under livestock, the program targets goats, sheep and cattle.
Dr Moses Siambi, ICRISAT’s Research Program Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, said the institute serves a number of vital functions in support of the research fraternity in the South African Development Community region and beyond. He thanked the Zimbabwe Government for supporting the institution as it had fostered research which continued to impact the lives of many farmers in the region.
Highlighting that malnutrition was a big threat to development of African countries, he said ICRISAT was looking for support to create awareness about the high nutrient and health value of millets and sorghum. Minister Ncube emphasized that there was a need for farmers to shift to drought-tolerant crops to strengthen resilience of smallholder farming systems to droughts.
This article first appeared in The Chronicle