Hivos Southern Africa says the media in Zambia has the power to change the country’s food habits and sustainable food production and consumption.
Hivos Southern Africa Communications Officer Masimba Biriwasha said yesterday, the Zambian diet is mainly composed of maize, starchy roots and, to a lesser extent, fruit and vegetables.
Mr Biriwasha told Journalists during an interactive session with Lusaka based Journalists on Thursday night that media can help to make the case for a food secure community where all children and adults grow, share, and prepare healthy, local food.
The session was meant to highlight the importance of media reportage on food consumption and production related issues in Zambia.
He said according to the National Food and Nutrition Commission (NFNC), one of the major causes of a high rate of malnutrition in Zambia is the mono diet practice.
Mr Biriwasha said the culture of mono diet is born from mono cropping food production, which is heavily slanted towards maize.
“For a start, media can take a lead role in researching stories about issues related to the local food system, farmers’ markets, local food policy, growing and preparing local food, and school and community gardens. Such stories can shed light on crucial issues related to sustainable food systems,” Mr Biriwasha said.
He added, “Through evidence based stories, media can foster new ways of thinking around food among citizens and at policy making levels. Media can change minds, challenge the tradition of maize mono-cropping and create a movement that embraces a sustainable, diverse, nutritious and health food culture.”
Mr Biriwasha said the stories on sustainable food that media produce can foment neural connections in people’s brains that help messages stick.
“Stories are irresistible because the brain is hardwired for narrative. Our message as Hivos Southern Africa Hub in Zambia is very simple: the time to act is now. Working together, it is possible to implement a sustainable food strategy in the country that is respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable, nutritious, safe and healthy.”
Mr Biriwasha said revealed that as part of its efforts to foster media reportage on sustainable food, Hivos Southern Africa is going be launching a sustainable food reporting award which will be handed out on World Food Day on October 16.
Meanwhile, Mr Biriwasha says there is need to implement a sustainable foods programme in Zambia aimed at fostering a radical rethinking of food production and consumption that recognises ecosystems as the foundation of societies and economies.
He said the existing food system in Zambia, built on large-scale mono cropping of maize, is eroding ecosystems and crop diversity and reducing diversity on people’s plates.
“In our view, we need to put citizens centre stage to build a new food system that is sustainable, nutritious, diverse and healthy,” Mr Biriwasha said.
“Sustainable diets are respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable, nutritious, safe and healthy. A diverse food system builds on the productivity and nutrition potential of agricultural biodiversity in food systems.”
“Diversity on the farm is diversity on the plate. As Hivos Southern Africa Hub, we firmly believe that a sustainable food system can contribute to sustainable diets that are key to realizing the goal of a healthy nation,” he said.