Zimbabwe has Commemorated this year’s edition of World Food Day fighting the triple burden of malnutrition, undernourishment and obesity with 5.5 million Zimbabweans expected to be food insecure between December 2019 and March 2020, reports the World Food Organisation.
Speaking at the World Food Day Commemoration on behalf of the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, at Insukamini Irrigation Scheme, Lower Gweru, in the Midlands province, the FAO Sub-regional Coordinator and Country Representative, Dr. Alain Onibom, said that according to the 2019 ZIMVAC Rural Livelihoods Assessment reports, approximately 1 in every 3 children under five years (26%) is stunted, with 2.6% of these being overweight.
“One in 4 children under the age of five years have vitamin A deficiency and 1 in 3 have iron deficiency anaemia.” said Dr. Alain Onibom.
This year’s edition of the World Food Day is “focusses on healthy diets under the theme, “Our Actions are our future. Healthy Diets for #Zero Hunger World.”
FAO Sub-regional Coordinator and Country Representative said that “achieving Zero Hunger is not about addressing hunger, but also nourishing people while nurturing the planet,” adding that World Food Day calls for action across all sectors to make healthy and sustainable diets accessible and affordable to everyone. At the same time it calls for everyone to think about what we eat.”
Dr. Onibom said that “in recent decades, we have dramatically changed our diets and eating habits as a result of globalization, urbanization and income growth. We have moved from season, mainly plant based and fibre rich dishes to dishes that are high in refined starches, sugars, fats, salt, processed foods, meats and other animal-source products. Less time is spent preparing meals at home and consumers, especially in urban areas, increasingly rely on supermarkets, fast foods, street food vendors and takeaway restaurants.”
Dr. Onibom said that, it is his organizations top priority to eradicate hunger and reduce all forms of malnutrition as part of a greater global effort.
“In Zimbabwe, FAO is collaborating with Government, farmers, researchers, the private sector and consumers, in eradicating hunger and poverty. Farmers are involved in agriculture production of high quality, diverse food, while Government is adopting policies, food standards and regulations that prioritize the availability and affordability of safe and nutritious foods. Research Institutions are providing the best scientific advice as well as push the boundaries of knowledge and technology. The private sector is influencing the food environment by adapting its products to modern nutritional recommendations.” said Mr. Onibom.
FAO is assisting the government of Zimbabwe in biofortification efforts to help breed “staple crop varieties that are high in selected vitamins and minerals and make them more nutritious.
Dr. Onibom said that FAO has reached out to 250 000 farming households through the production of biofortified crops under the DFID funded Livelihood and Food Security Programme in collaboration with the government of Zimbabwe.
The production of biofortified foods will go a long way in addressing the challenges of micro-nutrient deficiencies, hunger and poverty in the country.
By Francis Bingandadi Managing Editor AgriSeason