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?

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68 COMMENTS

  1. Empower small scale farmers with chemicals to scare insects and rats, educate them to stop selling maize to boggers businessmen and women, they should grow cash crops eg cotton, above all elect politicians who understand farming NOT THOSE SPECIALISED IN ENDLESS RESALES…THE KAPONYAS.

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  2. There are so many ways used to preserve food e.g. Vacuum packing, Vacuum sealing, Smoking Drying Pickling, Salting, Canning, Spray drying, the list is endless

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  3. This question was answered in 1964!

    Am sure we all know the answer…

    We shall always say we dont have enough capital or the know-how or

    the market…

    But the answer somehow is time has not come and we havent yet

    suffered to the worst or highest level… Pray for Me Amen

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  4. Food preservation is a very simple but sensitive method! There are several methods used, but the most applicable is drying ! The idea behind drying is to arrest microbial growth by reducing the water activity (available water for chemical & biochemical processes). The rural population receives capacity building programmes from the Ministry of Agriculture to process and preserve foods e.g mangoes can be processed into juice and can also sliced and dried! Sweet potatoes can also be preserved by slicing and drying.Different techniques are demonstrated to these people. However, docility or the love for free things is what is killing us! Good bless mother Zambia

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  5. Rashid

    They look like Mangoes! Bloggers do eat too much mangoes or you will spend the whole day in the mansion.

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  6. #16 So people are sitting on their bums waiting for government to preserve food for them? Is that what you are saying?

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  7. Not their fault then Pinkly! If anything the man should be taken to court for what he has done to those villgers! :d

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  8. Wesley,

    I am very impressed with this article. But I know your government will let you down, they have no sense of innovation what so ever… They dont dream. They dont imagine! they think some whow some invester from Malaysia will come to do it! I beats me! Why can’t I do it? Or you? Or you there?

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  9. These are the progressive topixcs worth debating on, not the regular political crossfire which has dominated this blog.

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  10. #24 The problem with our mindset is that it is only foreign investors who will invest in businesses like preserving food. There is this thing about FDI that we are very dependent upon. The truth of the matter, however, is that Africa attracts less than 5% of the global FDI and the bigger chunk of that goes to oil and related industries and its countries like Angola, Sudan, Nigeria etc, which benefit a lot. The rest is spread very thinly across the rest of Africa. Tulaibepa sana.

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  11. BEIJING (Reuters) – More than 1,500 boxes of Chinese biscuits exported to Hong Kong and Singapore have tested positive for melamine as suspects in the protracted tainted-food scandal go on trial in China, local media reported on Tuesday. EILYA TWALEPUNDA ATI KITWE PA MUSANA KU KABWATA.

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  12. #30

    Awe bakamba naimwe! Utuma flags tali tuchita reppresent IP address or location,it doesnt necessarily mean twaba pa GBR. Most of us are pa Zed , e.g Rashid, Spectator and yourself.

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  13. HARDNOX, GOD has already blessed Zambia but the people on top are letting Zamians down. maybe you want GOD to physically come to Zambia and work for you. you have rains,minerals,(ati nama fruits),water, alot of tourist attractions etc but they are not being implemented properly by the government hence the problems that you see.

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  14. Ya thats why we eat dry fish and kapenta,kabulangeti(dried beans) and ifinkubala 365. We need to more on the fruits and vegetable side.

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  15. Ya thats why we eat dry fish and kapenta,kabulangeti(dried beans) and ifinkubala 365. We need to do more on the fruits and vegetable side.

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  16. ako kanono,I agree with you! If you follow my line of thoughts, its just a way of expressing how bad i feel about what going on in zambia and not antipating good to bring manner!! Now, can you imagine that the ministry also educates these people in the rural areas how to determine their yearly food requirements so that when they harvest, they should leave enough food to see them through to the next harvest! But, one wonders how they always find themselves starving!. Infact it annoys me! The problem, they have especially men is that they want to be seen handling cash even when they know they ve not harvested enough! some of these am told they end up blowing their one hard work in clubs.

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  17. #39. Hardnox, in my village my parents and their fellow villagers used to have “nkhonkwe” where they stored maize, groundnuts, “atanje” and just about everygrain they harvested. They also had “vikwaati” in which they stored vegetables such as “mufusha” and “bowa”. The only challenge they had was storing fruit such as mangoes and masuku but i suppose it is because different fruit was in season at different times. They even dried meat–beef, mbuzi and bush meat even chicken. There was no commercialising, that was the difference.

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  18. We have been talking about boosting agric production in zambia. We know that for that to happen there is need for technical staff to advise these farmers on good agronomical practices! But my dear, everyone knows that crazy magande whom people are always praising has cut funding to ministry of agric. Implying extension officers are just sitting in offices, and how do you expect a bumper harvest like that? Am told the districts are receiving as low as K200,000=00 per month. But you several camps and each camp is manned by an extension officer. That money is not even enough for one field officer.So, you can imagine how annoying it is when people jsut talk from the blues!

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  19. Mangoes can be peeled and dried, like biltong. When ever I visit Fruit & Veg shops here where I am, I find a lot of dried fruits. By drying the stuff, you can have your favourite fruit all times of the year.

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  20. Just put the whites mugabe chased incharge and learn from them. Zambians have had more than 40 yrs yet still cant organise a farming network. All we see is a non ending series of give free equipment, give free fertelizer at election times.
    Let the professionals show us how it is done. Even put a zimbabwean white in charge of the farming ministry.

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  21. My mother preserves sweetpotaoes for me by burying them underground. As i’m in the diaspora now, sweetpotatoes are waiting for me in the village. She also dries “inswa” and I will enjoy them when I retire home. Coming to pumpkin leave, she makes what we call “mundyoli”. These are pumpkin leaves that have been pounded, dried and you only have to grind some chalimbana groundnuts, boil and you will never starve.
    We also eat dried pumpkin seeds as relish if things go to the worst.

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  22. This is a very good article. You are smart my friend.Hope you have found a job by now.Its Zambias loss if they lose you to the diaspora.On intellectually stimulating topics there are so few comments.People would rather comment on Maureen dancing and you ask why Zambia is not developed!

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  23. ” We need to see Zambians taking the initiative (Let’s forget about the government)”

    Let’s forget the government? As if they are not Zambians. No, instead we should forget about FDI and ‘foreign investors’.

    There is a big role to be played by the government, and in this time of crisis, we can’t afford to neglect it, let alone on ideological grounds. Foreign investors will never have the linkages to the local economy that Zambian entrepreneurs will have, and why ignore local government councils in coordinating development?

    What we need to let go of, is the ideology of neoliberal economics.

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  24. 45. shushushu

    ” Just put the whites mugabe chased incharge and learn from them. ”

    There you go again, depending on white people to do what you should be doing. Crack open a book, and you’ll learn a lot more. And you won’t have to give a way your country in the process. Rhodesians are not interested in teaching you anything, otherwise they would have brought up their ‘farm workers’ into commercial agriculture and made a lot of money, instead of treat them like serfs. But then, some individuals will always need a master to follow.

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  25. ” Finally, the government has a huge responsibility in creating an environment that promotes locally manufactured food products. ”

    Now that I can agree with, but let’s get to the point where there are actually surpluses. That means first filling the food reserve, and ensuring there is so much food that prices will come down.

    The way to get there, is by upgrading subsistence farmers into small scale commercial agriculture. I never said it was easy or wouldn’t take work, but it is the most sustainable way to grow the agricultural sector.

    Land reform, legal reform, infrastructure, education.

    Let’s get to it.

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  26. Nothing makes sense in Zambia,Housing is too expensive,telecommunication is too expensive,petrol is too expensive and electricity is too expensive the list is endless,For new business start ups there is very little or no infrastructure,Doing business in Zambia is too expensive it is cheaper to produce in South Africa,Zimbabwe,Botswana,Malawi and Mozambique

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  27. OOh how I miss those fruits and vegetables and mushrooms happy new year, all we need is peace and may God bless our country

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  28. Due to concerns by Geologist, Canada, and Dobo Banton(9th).LLB, I will be using the username G~la_fj in place of Maestro Hhehhehhehhe for some time.
    I also wish to send you all my happy prosperous New Year 2009 to you all old and would-be new LT bloggers.
    Having written that, I would like to announce, formally, that I will be very very rare on LT in the year 2009. This is because I am re-mounting operation ‘become Chess Grand Master’ and also I will be working for personal development following the advice from UPND spokesman Zambezi MP Charles Kakoma. I may not be available later in the day to do this since I have been invited somewhere to celebrate New 2009.

    Be blessed y’all.

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  29. #30 continued.
    I will definately miss you all and continue doing a noble cause for Zambia. Someday we will just make it as a Nation that will have moved from low stature to one that will be riding on high, higher, heights.

    By God’s grace, I hope to make it into the New Year 2009. I will be praying for you all and our country at large.

    Please, remember who you are always and take care of yourselves.

    With heart-felt love,

    Mugungulu H. Mwaanga as Maestro Hhehhehhehhe.
    :-h.

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  30. #55 continued.
    I will definately miss you all and continue doing a noble cause for Zambia. Someday we will just make it as a Nation that will have moved from low stature to one that will be riding on high, higher, heights.

    By God’s grace, I hope to make it into the New Year 2009. I will be praying for you all and our country at large.

    Please, remember who you are always and take care of yourselves.

    With heart-felt love,

    Mugungulu H. Mwaanga as Maestro Hhehhehhehhe.
    :-h.

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  31. The Amish in PA and the Midwest have no technology yet they are too advanced compared to Zambia and the Zambian mentality.Zambia free yourself from corruption,selfishness and colonial hung over and holding on to the British,Learn to walk and stand on your feet be a MAN.

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  32. 50. MrK
    But we have being trying for more than 40 yrs, yet still we have unstable food prices, reports of starvations.
    We should learn to use these whites like Botswana does.
    Even the Nigerians are learning to use them.
    How many more yrs do you suggest we need before we can develop effective farming ? 40 ? 100 ? in the meantime GRZ will continue wasting $ dishing out free implements and pipo continue to starve.

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  33. 59. shushushu,

    The huge majority of Zambians are not white, so depending on them for anything is a losing proposition. If Zambia is to develop, it has to be Zambians, no one else who will do the job. So please don’t insult me or yourself by talking about some white saviour who will come down and do what you have to do for yourself.

    How long will it take? That depends on who is in government. I could do it in 5 years, maybe 10.

    We could mobilize the National Service and chiefs to build on-farm rainwater catchment systems, irrigation districts and rural infrastructure. We should be expanding the FRA’s storage space so more food is kept in silos.

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  34. But most of all, we need to create a class of medium sized commercial organic farmers, out of the millions of subsistence farmers. We can create farms that have minimal to no need for external inputs, by producing fertilizers on the farm, using crop rotation and beneficial insects and bacteria to eliminate the use of pesticides, herbicides and all the other chemicals.

    We could use some of the $1bn of reserves the government has to revamp the existing farm cooperatives.

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  35. Sad to see emnity by skin colour still continues. Looking forward to the day true friendship exists between all

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