Mwenezi food and seed festival changes community perspectives

Mwenezi food and seed festival changes community perspectives

An exhibition of local traditional seeds that are produced by farmers in Mwenezi at the Mwenezi Good Food and Seed Festival held at PELUM Zimbabwe member, Mwenezi Development Centre (MDTC). Picture by Deltahcuti Dube/PELUM ZWE

Over the last decade, climate change and unsustainable farming practices have destroyed the environment, leaving families and communities adversely affected by food insecurity and on the brink of starvation.

Farming communities in Mwenezi district, Masvingo province have begun popularizing local seed and food festivals where farmers are learning about traditional seeds and crop varieties as climate change adaptation as well as seed and food sovereignty strengthening mechanisms.

To this end, Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Zimbabwe member and Zimbabwe Seed Sovereignty Programme (ZSSP) Partner, Mwenezi Development Training Centre (MDTC) hosted a district food and seed festival in Mwenezi on 18 September 2023. The festival brought together farmers and various stakeholders from across Mwenezi to share, exchange and trade seeds and the accompanying knowledge.

Shanangu Matutu (53) is a small-scale farmer from ward 4 in Mwenezi who has been taking part in the decentralized food and seed festivals. She also took part in the 2023 festival and says the festivals have played a big role in shifting mindsets of the community towards traditional grains.

“It’s so great to see everyone coming together to learn and share. These events have greatly changed my life, our community’s attitudes towards traditional grains have begun to shift positively. We eagerly look forward to the festival every year,” says Shanangu.

Simbisai Machava (60) is another a small-scale farmer based in Mwenezi. She has been working with MDTC for many years. She says the festivals play a critical role in strengthening the capacity of farmers to adapt to climate change.

“It is amazing to see so many people engaged and interested in these ideas. The festival felt like a real turning point for our community. The participation is really higher than before. Farmers are learning climate adaptation mechanisms for improved food security through such platforms,” says Simbisai.

Denhere Jamtious (49), district Agronomist in Mwenezi district says the festivals provide clear evidence of the benefits of Agroeoclogical practices and the community is beginning to realise them.

“The increased attendance at the festival was a sign of how the ideas being promoted are starting to take hold in the community. People are beginning to see the benefits of sustainable farming practices, both for their own livelihoods and for the environment,” says Denhere.

The PELUM Zimbabwe coordinated Zimbabwe Seed Sovereignty Programme (ZSSP) holds annual decentralized festivals in an effort to facilitate sharing, trade and exchange of farmer seeds and to promote Agroecological farming practices as well as the consumption of traditional foods.


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