The second edition of the Zimbabwe National Seed Fair, a festival that seeks to promote the growing and exchange of Zimbabwe’s traditional seeds bursts into life this Friday at the Harare Botanic Gardens.
The Fair is part of the “Good Food and Seed Festival,” an annual event that has been running for the past six years to promote the consumption of healthy and nutritious food.
“This year we are focusing on Sesame seed because of the market opportunities presented to farmers as well as the health benefits derived from Sesame seeds,” said Theophilus Mudzindiko, the Programmes Officer for the Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Zimbabwe.
PELUM coordinates the Zimbabwe Seed Sovereignty Program (ZSSP).
This year’s focus will be on the Sesame seed, coveted for its oil and has a substantial global market demand raking US$ 2,2 billion in 2017.
In Shona, it’s called runinga.
Studies have shown that when used or consumed, Sesame provides immense benefits such as the prevention of cancer, improving heart health, lowering blood pressure, improving bone health, reducing inflammation, improving hair and skin health, treating male infertility, improving oral health, stabilizing and preventing diabetes, among other benefits.
“Healthy, oil-rich seeds such as Sesame guarantee nutrition and income security for farmers. Sesame grows very well in dry areas that receive minimum rainfall. It fits perfectly with the trajectory of the climate of Southern Africa, which is expected to witness increasing temperatures and declining rainfall. Studies have shown that global temperatures will likely reach 1.5 degrees celsius in the next three decades. We will have no choice but to grow those crops suited for dry climates,” added Mudzindiko.
The National Seed Fair also encourages farmers to make an income while growing what they eat and the approach deviates from the conventional ‘cash crop’ syndrome which forces farmers to grow what they do not eat and become trapped in unhealthy diets.
The affair is also raising awareness on other healthy oil-rich seeds that have been traditionally consumed which include marula nuts, mongongo nuts, hacha nuts, wild melon seeds, groundnuts and many others.