The Sunday Mail
Zimbabwe should seriously consider diversifying its staple diet to include small grains to eliminate the likelihood of food shortages in future, the United Nations (UN) has said.
UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Ms Hilal Elver told The Sunday Mail the country needs to urgently focus on drought-resistant crops as climate change takes its toll on production of the staple crop, maize.
“Maize monoculture is not going to survive in light of climate change. The Government has to do something in the future because climate change affects everyone. Drought has always been with us, but now, drought is becoming more severe,” she said.
“You, therefore, need to change the production system, the diet system, the agriculture system. It is an important political decision to change your current system, but in the long term, there is no other solution than to change. I know that it is a sensitive issue and it is a cultural issue, but in the long term, there needs to be more diversity.”
Countries such as Cuba, some parts of Malawi, Zambia, Senegal, she said, were gradually adapting to the new weather-induced reality.
The UN believes there is need for more research that could help craft a masterplan to diversify food production. At Agroecology School in Shashe Village, Masvingo, peasant farmers are reportedly producing a variety of food crops like grains, cereals, legumes, vegetables, fruit trees, medicinal plants, roots and livestock.
Ms Elver said: “I also encourage the Government to initiate a master plan for a sustainable and nutrition-sensitive food production system, which will take into account the countries’ natural resources and climatic conditions with a view to diversifying the diet of its people.
“The Government should also elaborate a national agroecology and sustainable agriculture strategy, which could be based on the model of the Shashe Agroecology School, amongst others, and include good practices from donor countries and relevant international organisations such as World Food Programme and Food and Agriculture Organisation.”