Bikita food and seed festival inspires other districts

Bikita food and seed festival inspires other districts

Exhibitors at the Bikita 2023 food and seed festival interact with farmers from Tsholotsho district [on the right]. The majority of exhibitors and visitors were women, which is evidence of the central role they play in food systems as custodians of seed and food. The Bikita festival was a youth-centred event, with school children from various schools taking part in different ways in an effort to “catch them young.” Photo: Deltahcuti Dube/PELUM Zimbabwe

Thembi Gumbo (53), a small-scale farmer from ward 2 in Tsholotsho district, Matabeleland North, says participating in the Bikita district food and seed festival has fully convinced her that Agroecology is the only path to food and nutrition security.

Thembi started farming in 2002 using conventional methods but could never harvest enough to feed her family or to provide them with adequate nutrition. She says it was attending the Bikita Seed and Food Festival in September 2023 which showed her that it is possible to produce adequate nutritious food sustainably.

“I left the Good Food and Seed Festival inspired and motivated to make a change in my community. I realised that traditional grains could make a difference in people’s lives especially when it comes to nutrition and food security. Agroecology is the way to go and I encourage more farmers to practice it,” she says.

Thandiwe Tshuma (41), another small-scale farmer from Tsholotsho district says attending the Bikita food and seed festival opened her eyes to the nutritional value of millets.

Before I participated in the Bikita food and seed festival, I had limited knowledge on how traditional grains are rich in nutrients. I have learnt that the traditional grains like millets are gluten-free grains, making it a good option for people with celiac disease,” says Thandiwe.

From being barely able to feed her family to harvesting surplus for sale and being able to easily afford school fees of her children, Thandiwe says she has fallen in love with traditional grains.

Thembi and Thandiwe are part of a group of 12 small-scale farmers and Agricultural Extension officers from Tsholotsho district who participated in the Bikita festival, hosted by PELUM Zimbabwe member, Schools and Colleges Permaculture (SCOPE) Zimbabwe as part of a learning visit organised by PELUM Zimbabwe for farmers and stakeholders working under the Markets and Seed Access Project (MASAP).

MASAP is an initiative coordinated by PELUM Zimbabwe’s strategic partner, Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT) and other organisations to strengthen production, consumption and marketing of traditional grains in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Tembi Mungani (65), Schools and Colleges Permaculture (SCOPE) Zimbabwe project officer, says he was impressed by the high level of attendance by farmers from different parts of Zimbabwe which made for rich discussions and dialogue.

“I was very impressed with the level of participation we received on our decentralised festival. We learnt a lot from the farmers who came from the different districts in Zimbabwe as they brought their traditional seeds to the festival and shared different ideas,” says Tembi.

The Zimbabwe Seed Sovereignty Programme (ZSSP) is partnering with the Markets and Seed Access Project (MASAP) to build capacity of small-scale farmers and stakeholders from Tsholotsho and Mudzi districts to organise and host effective district food and seed festivals.


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