A Celebration of Zimbabwe’s Traditional and Organic Food and Seed

Background: The Zimbabwe Traditional and Organic Food Forum

The traditional Zimbabwean diet was historically highly diverse and nutritious. However, over the past 5 or 6 generations, people in Zimbabwe have moved away from traditional foods to a heavy reliance on processed foods, particularly maize. This shift has taken a toll on the health and nutrition of Zimbabweans on both ends of the malnutrition spectrum: 26.6% of children suffer from stunting linked to poor dietary diversity while 35% of adult women and 12% percent of men are overweight or obese. In 2014, lifestyle diseases killed 138,000 people – 31% of all deaths – in Zimbabwe (WHO). The Zimbabwe Traditional and Organic Food Forum seeks to change this.

The Food Forum’s approach aims to treat the causes of nutrition problems rather than the symptoms. We do this through a range of activities— community outreach, product development, marketing campaigns, and capstone events like the annual Good Food Festival. As a network of like-minded organizations and individuals, our aim is to increase the consumption of nutritious traditional and organic foods. We work through multiple channels and efforts to re-establish a healthy food culture by changing the perception Zimbabweans have of local foods, facilitating a return to traditional ingredients and food preparations, and promoting the consumption of healthy local foods. The Food Forum considers this its core business and the Good Food Festival its most high-profile effort.

About the Good Food Festival

The first Traditional and Organic Food Festival took place in December 2013 and has become a popular annual event on the Harare calendar. Now in its 6th year and renamed the Good Food Festival, it is the only event in Zimbabwe that brings small holder farmers, food and seed producers together with consumers to interact, receive direct market feedback, and learn and exchange information, all in celebration of healthy, sustainably produced local food. In the lead-up to the festival day, the Food Forum members bring together farmers, farmer organizations and agribusinesses from around the country for two days of exchange and market dialogue, creating huge value for farmers.

Here is a quick overview of what’s in store for the 2018 Good Food Festival.

Festival Day 1: Marketing Day (Thurs, Oct 18)

•Key speakers and workshops tailored to farmer-identified priority topics

•A trade fair for the farmers to interact with larger buyers invited by the Festival

•Support on marketing and merchandising for smallholders provided by marketing student-volunteers from the University of Zimbabwe

•Compilation of a farmer catalogue with contacts and available stocks

Festival Day 2: Seed Expo (Fri, Oct 19)

• A seed swap for farmers to exchange seeds, organized by the Zimbabwe Seed Sovereignty Program

• The day will build in discussions and activities designed to actively bring together representatives of informal seed networks, research and commercial seed producers to examine opportunities for expanding and improving seed access for traditional crops in Zimbabwe

Festival Day 3: (Sat, Oct 20)

On Saturday, it’s all about celebrating the best of Zimbabwe’s food and seed. We’re making it even more exciting this year, as well as easier to explore.

Activities include:

• A wide variety of exhibitors offering a diverse array of unique and local products

• A fantastic food court highlighting traditional Zimbabwean dishes, a wide range of African cuisines and even popular international cuisines that will use Zimbabwean ingredients into their national dishes

• This year we’re bringing back the massively popular tie-in with Battle of the Chefs Harare in a fully equipped BOTC Chefs Pavilion where celebrity chefs will compete in food challenges using only traditional ingredients. In between chefs battles, the Pavilion will host cooking demonstrations where the audience can learn how to make delicious dishes with traditional ingredients and taste the results!

• This year’s live music line up is incredible—starting off at 11am with Tariro neGitare, followed by Blessing Chimanga, Tamy Moyo and finishing up with Sylent Nqo.

• There will be tons of fun and learning at the Kidz Zone, with games, competitions, face painting, storytelling, arts and crafts and kids cooking demonstrations.

• The seed expo will continue on the festival day, so visitors can shop for novel plants and seeds

As the Food Festival is about raising awareness around healthy and traditional eating for Zimbabweans from all walks of life, it has been purposely maintained as a nearly-free ($1 entry, free for kids under 12) public service event, and not a profit-making enterprise. This means that the Food Forum works with a dozen funding partners each year, without whose support the Good Food Festival could not happen. We’re proud to partner with:

• The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s Seed and Knowledge Initiative

• The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization

• Hivos

• Bio-Innovation Zimbabwe

• Afrideli

• Four Seasons

• Cluster Agricultural Development Services

• Welt Hunger Hilfe

• Battle of the Chefs Harare

• Trocaire

• UNDP’s Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund

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