Entertainment by school children
World Food Day commemorations in Zimbabwe were held on 17 October, 2012 at Nharira Dairy Centre in Chikomba district of the Mashonaland East province. About 1 500 people including government officials from Harare, Marondera and Chivu, local NGOs, farmers (crops and livestock), farmer organisations, agricultural inputs suppliers, stockfeed manufacturers, traditional leaders, the local community, school children, the media, FAO and WFP staff attended the occasion. The Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperatives Development, Mrs Sithembiso Nyoni was Guest of Honour and the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development also attended the occasion. The FAO staff included the FAO Representative and Sub-regional Coordinator, Dr Gaoju Han, Assistant FAO Representative – Programme, David Mfote and the national staff. WFP staff were led by the Country Director in Zimbabwe Mr Felix Bamezon. A local poetry group and school children provided entertainment for the occasion.
In line with the theme of the 2012 World Food Day – Agricultural Cooperatives: Key to Feeding the World, the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development, invited the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprise and Cooperatives Development to be the Guest of Honour at this year’s commemorations. A dairy cooperative based at Nharira Dairy Centre was chosen to host the World Food Day in conjunction with the occasion of the National Dairy Farmer of the Year coordinated by the National Association of Dairy Farmers. FAO and WFP provided the bulk of the financial support towards the commemorations and this was complemented by donations in cash and kind from Agribank, Agricultural Marketing Authority, Colcom, and Grain Marketing Board. Oxfam International provided promotional material in the form of T-shirts.
The proceedings started with the tour of the dairy production unit at the National Dairy Farmer of the year, Mrs Sibusisiwe Madyangove where dairy farmers who participated in the competition and the invited guests were exposed to small scale dairy farming best practices. The farmer is a member of the Nharira Dairy Cooperative where members deliver their milk at the Collection Centre and it is processed into different dairy products (sour milk, yoghurt). A total of 28 dairy farmers who belong to different cooperatives throughout the country participated in the dairy competition and were judged in the following 12 areas.
• Fodder Production and planning
• Herd Health Records
• Silage Pits standard
• Calf Management
• Breeding and reproduction
• Cattle handling facilities
• Use of dry cow therapy - mastitis control
• Milk hygiene
• Condition of milk parlours
National Dairy Farmer of the Year’s cattle and feeding facilities Mrs Madyangove , the winner stressing a point to the Minister Nyoni.
Also exhibiting on the day were a Horticulture Cooperative from Mutoko and a Fisheries cooperative from Darwendale.
The Wold Food Programme partnered with FAO on this day and the WFP Country Director and Representative Mr Felix Bamezon addressed the gathering and highlighted that WFP marks this year’s World Food Day commemoration by continuing its dedication to working with the Government of Zimbabwe, as well as communities and the private sector to support the needs of the vulnerable and work towards eliminating hunger.
The FAO Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr Gaoju Han, read a message from the FAO Director General and stressed the commitment by FAO to support member governments in helping cooperatives and producer organizations to thrive, by developing adequate policies, legal frameworks, economic incentives, and forums for dialogue on policy making.
The following were the highlights of the special message by the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development:
• The Agricultural cooperative model of enterprise currently in use can successfully empower the poor and lead to real development. This model has three objectives:- to increase awareness, to promote growth, and to establish appropriate policies.
• The Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperatives Development’s mandate is to promote and develop Agricultural cooperatives as business enterprises that can improve the livelihoods of farmers and reduce poverty and malnutrition.
• It is our ethical, political and economic responsibility to meet the needs of the poor and help them through agricultural cooperatives to easily access production resources and markets.
• Today Zimbabwe has at least 5 000 registered cooperatives up from 4 600 recorded last year (2011). A record of 400 cooperatives having been registered in a single year indicates that Zimbabwe appreciates the importance of cooperatives in the economic production chain. These cooperatives are active in a wide range of sectors which include agriculture, mining, manufacturing, housing, savings and credit, fishing and services delivery.
• The Dairy sector has registered significant strides and dairy cooperatives have gone a step further in their production chain and are now adding value to their milk. They are producing Yoghurts, Sour milk and Cheese. The horticulture sector has also improved greatly with farmers now selling their produce as fresh or dry.
• The Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development at present is embarking on the process of resuscitating and strengthening all cooperatives that had been adversely affected by the harsh economic climate.
• Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies are critical in our society as they inculcate in our farmers a culture of saving.
• The need for all stakeholders to work together to create a common voice in establishing a global understanding about the pivotal role that Agricultural Cooperatives can play in providing sustainable economic growth, food and improve livelihoods.
The commemorations officially ended at around 14.00 hours with participants being treated with a variety of nutritious food.
Media coverage printed
The Daily News
TV and radio programmes
Zimbabwe Television, Main News
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
The commemoration was graced by the Honourable Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperatives Development, the Deputy Minister for Agriculture.