Next month Harare will be treated to the first ever Traditional and Organic Food Festival. Taking place on the 7 December at the National Botanical Gardens not far from the city centre in Alexandra Park, the fair promises to be a celebration of all the positive elements of the food system in Zimbabwe.
The initial idea came from Food Matters Zimbabwe, a loose voluntary citizens food group concerned about the food system in Zimbabwe. They are keen to celebrate food through a festival and not just focus on the negatives. Now many others have come on board to make this festival a reality.
Caroline Jacquet from ZAVSAP, Zimbabwe Adding Value to Sustainable Agriculture Produce, is the coordinator for the festival. She’s very excited about the fair. ZAVSAP itself has been organising food fairs for a number of years, however this year’s edition didn’t take place. Next month’s fair will be going a few steps further. Jacquet says that with all the different organisations and networks that came together in August, the fair is so much easier and much more fun to organise. “They all have connections and so in no time we had over 30 organisations and businesses confirming participation,” she explains. Farmers and organisations from all over the country will be flocking in to take part.
The Zimbabwe Organic Producers and Promoters Association is also part of the technical committee organising the event. The fair ties in with their objective to market organic food and the associated farming practices. “This is a very unique event that will avail healthy options to consumers,” says Nelson Kuhudzai, marketing officer at ZOPPA. “We are saying that there is alternative and better food around us, which sadly most of us are ignorant of. Yet it presents exactly what the doctor prescribes.”
Bio-Innovation Zimbabwe (BIZ) is another of the organisers. They have contributed financially and through man-power (Jacquet also works with BIZ). CEO Gus Le Breton feels strongly that the time is right to introduce Zimbabwean consumers to a wider range of traditional and organic foods. “Health-conscious Zimbabwean consumers shouldn’t have to look to imported products when we have such an abundance of healthy foods available locally. The challenge is to present traditional and organic foods in a refreshing and contemporary manner, and open consumers eyes (and minds!) to the riches around us.”
There will be cooking demos, mini-workshops and talks and food court style stalls. Jacquet says that the live stage and the kids zone will also help to make the event very much a family day out.
Members of the organising committee include Food Matters Zimbabwe, PELUM, ZOPPA, ZAVSAP Zimbabwe Small-scale Organic Farmers’ Forum, ZIMSOFF (who host the international secretariat of La Via Campesina), STEP (an NGO working to promote viable community managed ecotourism enterprises), the Ministry of Health and the Nutrition Department at the University of Zimbabwe.