By Wesley Ngwenya
Here in Zambia, we are right in the middle of the rain season—a time when we are blessed with showers from above almost on a daily basis. This annual blessing is complimented with budding trees, colorful flowers, and a carpet of green grass. It is a time when there is plenty of fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, and all kinds of Zambian delicacies.
What I particularly don’t like about this time of the year, in addition to the mud, is the waste of food that goes on in our country. Admittedly, Zambia yes is a poor country with millions of people living in poverty because they cannot afford descent housing, water, health, education and food. It is rather appalling, this time of the year to see so much food going to waste.
Our country is endowed with various kinds of fruits such as mangoes, masukus, quavas, lemons, oranges nsumos, muchenje, muchingachinga, muzauli,( insert your favorite fruit here). There is also the list of once a year vegetables we enjoy such as bondwe, delele, maize, katapa, kalembula, impwa, etc. These are foods that majority of Zambians love to have at their dinner tables. But what is preventing us to have them all year round?
We need to see Zambians taking the initiative (Let’s forget about the government) to invest in food processing businesses that can be strategically located in places where these foods come from. I have already started seeing rotten mangoes. Rotten mangoes make good juice just like rotten apples make good juice. Yes, I saw that with the Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. They would pick the fallen apples cut out the worst part and throw them in a bucket. Next, they would wash them take them to a grinder and a few minutes later it was pure natural apple juice or applesauce. Why can’t we have a fish cannery factory in Mongu? For once I would like to eat a canned fish that comes from the Zambian waters or enjoy some masuku juice from Spar.
Preserving our food in this country whether it is by drying, salting, canning, freezing or whatever method is a significant milestone to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. If we can have abundant food all year round then the food prices will likely go down. This means that many family members can now enjoy bananas in the comfort of their homes not in the hospital beds of UTH.
Finally, the government has a huge responsibility in creating an environment that promotes locally manufactured food products. This includes ensuring that retailers, restaurants, hotels purchase products that are produced within our country. Many farmers around the country have foods that go to waste simply because they cannot find buyers. Meanwhile, our major grocery stores find it “cheaper” to buy their foods from South Africa. I have always wondered why I have to go to Turnpike in Kafue to have a good banana—why can’t I buy that at Shoprite?