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SENATE HANSARD 05 FEBRUARY 2019 VOL 28 NO 28

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 5th February, 2019

The Senate met at Half-past Two o’clock p. m.

PRAYERS

(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE

INVITATION TO A NATIONAL LEADERSHIP PRAYER BREAKFAST MEETING

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I wish to inform the Senate that the Zimbabwe Council of Churches ZCC is inviting Party Chief Whips, all Committee Chairpersons, the President and Deputy President of the Chief’s Council, the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Women’s Caucus and the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Legal Committee to a National Leadership Prayer Breakfast Meeting to be held on Thursday 7th February, 2019 at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) from 0800 hours to 1000 hours.

SPORTING TRAINING SESSIONS

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I also have to inform the Senate that the Parliament Sports Club wishes to advise all Hon. Senators who are interested in sporting that training sessions will be held every day from Monday to Friday from 0600 hours to 0700 hours at the Girls High School.  Training Sessions will commence on Monday, 11th February, 2019 and this will be followed by a meeting to be held on Tuesday, 12th February, 2019 at 1700 hours in the Senate Chamber. 

MOTION

IMPORTANCE OF INTERCROPPING AND GROWING OF SMALL GRAINS

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:  I move the motion standing in my name that this House:

RECALLING that before independence, people used to engage in traditional ways of farming called intercropping which ensured the harvesting of a variety of crops and prevention of malnutrition;

RECOGNISING that with the ushering in of new and modern farming methods of cash crops, the growing of small grains and intercropping have diminished;

          CONCERNED that since the phenomenon of climate change, cash crops are not performing well in all regions without irrigation infrastructure;

          NOW, THEREFORE, calls upon Government to educate the nation on the importance of intercropping and growing of small grains especially in drought stricken areas.

          HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI:  I second.

          HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Madam President, could you please allow me to refer to my notes because there are figures.

          THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  There is no problem in referring to your notes.

          HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:  Thank you Madam President.  My motion is on production of small grains.  Zimbabwe is an agro-based economy, where 70% of the population live in the rural areas and the majority of them are dependent on the sector for livelihood.  Years ago, before Independence, people used to farm various indigenous crops mixed in one field.  These crops include maize, rapoko, cowpeas and pumpkins among others.  It was part of the people’s culture to grow small grains because they were a guarantee of food security at household level.  At the same time, families were able to make a variety of nutritious meals.  In a day, the standard menu comprised of porridge from either rapoko or mhunga at breakfast.  For lunch they could prepare mutakura or nhopi and for supper they could make sadza with pumpkin leaves with peanut butter and a road runner as relish. 

          Madam President, the ushering in of cash crops such as tobacco and cotton disrupted the production of some food crops, particularly the small grains.  There are fewer farmers who have an interest in growing small grains.  Even if you look at Government programmes, particularly the Command Agriculture, it is largely focusing on the growing of maize, soya beans and there is little talk about growing small grains. This is very worrying given that the country has not been spared from the effects of climate change.  Zimbabwe is usually affected by persistent droughts and this means as a country we need to refocus our attention to the growing of drought tolerant crops such as small grains.  Some of us represent rural constituencies where people depend heavily on agriculture as a source of livelihood. For households, food security in times of drought is a necessity. Our people become vulnerable when the maize crop and other cash crops fail, furthermore resulting in malnutrition especially of primary school going children.

 Madam President, irrigation has been noted as one of the strategies for mitigating the impact of drought.  However, not all farmers in Zimbabwe have access to irrigation.  Furthermore, it has been noted that in Zimbabwe’s Comprehensive Agriculture Policy Framework of 2012 to 2013 that irrigated land has been on the decrease from 200 000 hectares in the year 2000 to about 135 hectares in 2009.  This was due to a number of factors that include aging and vandalism of irrigation equipment as well as conflict in the sharing of irrigation infrastructure.  As a result, the majority of our famers have to rely on rain fed agriculture.  In time of drought, Government has to import a lot of grain to assist our people. 

          In the last summer cropping season 2017 and 2018, maize and other grain production stood at 1, 8 million tonnes which did not meet the national requirements of two million tonnes for both human and livestock consumption.  The country can make a lot of savings of our scarce foreign currency if the country increases production of small grain. 

          Madam President, sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet are generally grown in semi arid region 3, 4 and 5 where there is low rainfall of about 450 to 650 mm, high temperatures and poor soils.  The production of small grain has been on the increase for example, for the period 2015 to 2016 productions went up by 41%.  Some types of small grain are resilient like a grain called shirikure, a type of sorghum which is grown in Manicaland and is drought resistant.  It does not attract birds like other small grains, thus ensures higher yields and food security in parts of Zimbabwe.

          Madam President, there has been a number of push and pull factor in the growing of small grains both at national and internal levels. The factors include:-

·       Climate change has affected the maize production which is a staple food in most countries in Southern and Central Africa, resulting in poor yields and food shortages.  This has created a place for sorghum, millet and cowpeas in national and continental food security programmes since they are drought resistant and have a high yield guarantee in semi arid regions as this provides food security.

·       Small grains are now considered as cash crops that can be sold at Grain Marketing Board.  This will encourage our farmers to grow the crops.  Furthermore, the crops can be taken to grinding mills where it can be made into mealie meal.

·        There is growing demand for traditional foods in the tourism sector, public functions and this should stimulate production.

·       Health wise, doctors encourage people to eat such traditional foods as part of a preventative measure against diseases such high blood pressure and diabetes.

 Madam President, while it is noble that the Government made great strides to ensure that our farmers grow small grains, it has been acknowledged that there are still a number of challenges that need to be addressed to ensure that the country fully benefits.  Some of these challenges include:

·       Inadequate seed production and inputs for the growth of small grain.  As a result there are low yields since farmers continue with the same variety which is prone to disease and pests.  More research and development is required in producing seed varieties that are strong and produce high yields.

·       Lack of appropriate processing technologies like threshing machines which makes farming more expensive with the need for paid labour.  There has been concern by farmers that small grains require more labour unlike maize.  So, technologies are needed, particularly for the post harvesting period.

·       Potential loss by bird attacks in areas like Chikombedzi and many other places in the country.

·       Insecure markets as sorghum is yet to find its place in the market in relation to commodity value.

·       Poor grading systems which may prejudice the farmer as most small grains are not on high demand for consumption unlike maize wheat.

Madam President, I am therefore calling on:-

·       The Ministry of Agriculture to make sure that farmers have a reliable source of high yielding seed and ensure improved sorghum and millet varieties.  This can be done through Command Agriculture Programme.

·       Agritex officials to train farmers on small grain farming, seed production and ensure continuous production.

·       Seed and research institutes to increase motivation through field and demonstration plots so that farmers see the advantages of intercropping, especially on a variety of small grain.

·       The Agricultural Marketing Authority to secure markets for small grains and create markets in neighbouring countries such as Botswana. This ensures that farmers get profits and ensure that a tonne of small grain is allocated a favourable and competitive price higher than that of maize.

·       The Ministry of Agriculture, to educate the nation since small grains has excellent potential not only to improve the diet and incomes of farmers in Zimbabwe’s marginal areas, but also national food security.

          In conclusion, I want to appeal to all Hon. Senators in this House to support the production of small grains in their constituencies. This forms part of our representation functions that is enshrined in the Constitution. This will go a long way in restoring our lost traditional diet and eating habits and will also help our children and grandchildren appreciate such goods.

          *HON. SEN CHIMBUDZI: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to debate this motion raised by Hon. Sen. Tongogara regarding the production of small grains which is very important for the country.  In her motion, she touched a lot of attributes which have to do with our day to day living. In the past, our ancestors and forefathers used to grow these small grains, the finger-millet, wheat and they would store them in their homes.

          In my area, Valley Flow of Mt. Darwin, they construct these granaries in the kitchen where they will be cooking because long ago, there were no pesticides hence, the grains were preserved through the heat which is generated in the kitchen and also the soot which is produced by the fire. Our elders would feed on these foods and get a lot of nutrition. As we speak today, in the same place of Valley Flow in Mount Darwin, they no longer grow these small grains. They prefer grain maize and yet maize is not suitable for the climatic condition of this area because of the poor rains.

          It is very important that we look carefully into this motion. The Hon. Sen. talked about chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetics and others. We usually have this alarm bell ringing when you start changing your diet and when you are sick because of high blood pressure and diabetics. That is when most of us start changing our diet and eat these small grains such as finger-millet. We also realise that in these modern day hotels where we live, they are now providing us with traditional porridge which is made up of millet, wheat or finger-millet. Of concern and what I have noticed is that most of us do not partake of this traditional food, but you prefer eating these modern day cereals.

          As Sen. Tongogara did inform and educate us that in order for us to elongate our lives and live a healthy life, we need to partake the traditional food such as finger-millet, wheat or roller-meal which should have peanut butter added onto it. We know our forefathers lived longer because of these traditional foods yet on the contrary, we are living shorter lives because of these foods. What I have noticed is that people who live longer are said to be living for 30 or 40 years and we prefer eating junk foods from Chicken Inn and Chicken Slice. These foods are delicious but they have created health problems for us.

          When we look at the small grains, if we follow the traditional foods, these would bring us together as Africans and we would hang on to our culture. When we look at what is happening as of now, those people who are involved in making traditional brews for appeasing their ancestral spirits, instead of brewing the traditional brew, they go and buy Ingwebu or Chibuku or Super because that is what is obtaining, but how can you appease your ancestral spirits when you talk to them using these modern brews, the ngwebu, chibuku and the super?

          I know that we want to live a good life and the mover of the motion said 70% of the population of Zimbabwe is rural based. When we look at people who live in rural areas in the past, they were people who grew most of our foods but now, they are no longer as hard working as they were hence, we call upon our Government to encourage farmers to grow these small grains. One of the ways of encouraging people to grow these small grains is to increase the price of these small grains such as the price that is given to wheat should be equivalent to that given to finger-millet and any other millet. People will rush to buy that because there is money and health.

          Let me now turn to the regions. In the Dande area in Mukumbura, we have these quelea birds which are a menace. They originate from Mozambique and they definitely feed on these finger-milllet and other small grains including wheat. When they move you think it is a cloud which is moving. We are asking Government to help us fight these quelea birds because as small scale farmers, we cannot beat them. Even if we spray, we cannot kill them all. What I have noticed is that when you have used these chemicals, our livestock, cattle, goats and sheep which will have strayed into the fields get affected.

          When I talk about Mt. Darwin Constituency, I have realised and noticed that very few people are interested in growing these small grains. I am saying, as Hon. Members of this Hon. House, let us go and encourage people in our constituencies to grow these small grains. I remember there was a time at my home where I cooked these traditional foods, one of my cousins who had visited me was very much surprised to what I was calling food. The reason was not imparting enough knowledge to members of my family to partake of this traditional health food which is our culture and our tradition.  This should also include grains such as beans and peas so that our great grand children will also be proud of the food because they will have these values inculcated in them at the appropriate age.  Therefore, let us grow these small grains. 

What is surprising is that you will notice some very young people suffering from chronic illnesses which usually attacked elderly people.  I am saying, whenever we are brewing beer for placating or appeasing our ancestors, let us use the small grains and not use the modern beers such as Chibuku, the Ngwebu because our ancestors will not sympathise with us in our pleas.  I emphasise and repeat - whenever people grow the small grains, they should be given an attractive price by the Grain Marketing Board and the Grain and people will gladly grow the small grains.  I thank you. 

*HON. SEN. MURONZI:  Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to support this motion.  Thank you Hon. Sen. Tongogara for raising this pertinent motion which was seconded by Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi.  It is very true, the case that has been raised by Hon. Sen. Tongogara is very important.  I was born and grew up in Mutoko.  During that time, our parents used to grow wheat, finger millet, beans, groundnuts and I remember we used to eat sadza cooked in wheat, finger millet, millet wheat or even rice which is not refined as the one we see today.  We used the traditional ways of preparing the food but of late, I have witnessed that we have ignorant people or maybe lazy ones who do not follow the traditional ways of preparing these foods. 

Madam President, if we are to look at the children of today, they are suffering from obesity because of the way they are living.  I have also noticed when the weather changes or there are some showers, children of today end up growing some goose pimples on their bodies but when we grew up we did not suffer from these illnesses. We ate the right foods.  My mother died at the age of 124 years and we give thanks to the traditional foods which she was eating that elongated her life.  They lived longer because they did not throw away their culture. Today, we are encouraging our children to feed from the cheap junk foods. 

I remember when we grew up, we used to cook this beans mixed with peanut butter and when drinking tea we would consume that.  It was very healthy and nutritional.  We also used some porridge made from beans and peas, in Shona it is called rupiza.  We invited in our Committee some health personnel and when they addressed us, they encouraged people to adopt traditional foods, especially those that we grow but people have now taken the taste of the Western diet.  This is creating the chronic illnesses.  What is surprising when they go to the doctors for consultations, the diagnosis and prescription given by the doctor is that they should revert to the traditional foods that are nutritious and healthy.  Let us teach our offspring, our children because when we try to give them sadza cooked from finger millet or wheat, they are surprised at the colour of the food and the odour produced.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. MOHADI:  Thank you Madam President.  I also want to add my voice on this motion presented by Hon. Sen. Tongogara, seconded by Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi.  I do not know whether it is because of my age and how I prefer traditional food because to me it is very great.  I will not mention all the grains because they are so many, I only want to choose one which is very important and that I have recently craved for.  It is the pumpkin. 

Madam President, with the pumpkin, we make very good vegetables from the pumpkin leaves.  Most of us just eat that and enjoy not knowing the nutritional value contained in the pumpkin vegetables.  I want to convey my sincere thanks to Hon. Sen. Timveos, she is the one who told me to google.  I am not a user-friendly cellphone person but she taught me how to google that vegetable.  I found that it had about 13 to 14 nutritional values in it.  If you want that information, I can assist you through the lessons that I was taught by Hon. Sen. Timveos. 

Madam President, in our area, we come from region 5 where we hardly harvest anything as we do not receive sufficient rainfall.  We receive below average rainfall.  For us to survive in Matabeleland South, most of the times we have to go for small grains.  During the golden days, we used to have granaries whereby our parents would dig underground granaries in the cattle kraals and the grains would be stored there.  They could go for four to five years and they would assist us during the dry seasons when we could not harvest anything so that we could have sufficient food to eat because it was well preserved. 

Madam President, I would urge the Government to have more research centres.  You will find that may be we are the worst affected in the region.  We have got Matopo Research Station whereby they have all the lessons for improving our seed varieties.  If you go there, they specialize in small grains only and you can have a lot of other varieties that you need.  It is vital for this information to be spread all over the country as we are now experiencing almost the same rain conditions.  Even in those areas where they used to harvest a lot through crop production, especially maize, you find that these days they are now being affected by climate change.  So, we have to be prepared to grow even the small grains so that we avoid having this problem of insufficient food. 

          Madam President, those who spoke before me talked about the market price.  If at all I were the one, I would increase the price of these small grains, especially this coming season because there is need for us to grow small grains in order to survive.  If we look at the small grains as I alluded to before, they do not need a lot of rainfall and they do not even need the irrigation component. You can grow these small grains without irrigation and you will always harvest them. 

Madam President, we have got problems in growing these small grains.  The main challenge is quelea birds.  These birds cause great havoc to these small grains, especially sorghum.  They will eat all the crops and you will remain with nothing.  We need a method which is environmentally friendly to scare away these birds or to kill them in a manner which will not affect other animals or birds that do not eat our sorghum.  

Madam President, also looking at the way our sorghum is harvested, it is very cumbersome.  As a result, even ourselves no longer like that food because it has got a lot of sand and stones; it is not palatable at all because of the method that is used, that of threshing.  I think there is need for combine harvesters that will harvest and it should never be put on the ground for it to be palatable - [HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] -  Another challenge is the planting part of it.  Our planters do not have a disk which is particularly meant for the small grains.  As a result, if we use our own hands, it becomes tedious.  We need a disk that  is specifically made for planting our sorghum. 

Madam President, there is also need for more education to the communities.  Our extension workers that are on the ground, should put more emphasis to farmers to plant these small grains.  That is the only way we can survive, especially for those who are in region five.  I am sorry if you still want to grow a lot of maize because you will never succeed unless if it is under irrigation.  If we take into consideration the irrigation component part of it and the use of electricity, it becomes very expensive for farmers to produce.  They can produce some maize but it would be very expensive if they consider the expense involved in producing that maize. It is not profitable at all.  So, let us stick to our small grains and continue as parents and grandparents, to teach our children to get used to these small grains as it assists them in the future.  Also, these small grains minimize diseases.  I am not saying that it is a cure of anything but due to the nutrition value that is contained there, it minimizes diseases.  With these few words Madam President, I would also want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to express myself. I also want to thank the mover and the seconder of this motion because to me it means a lot. 

*HON. SEN. MATIIRIRA:  Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to make my contribution on this motion raised by Hon. Sen. Tongogara, seconded by Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi.  This is a very important motion.  I urge my fellow Parliamentarians to support this motion because if you have that policy of growing these small grains, we will progress in our country.  I come from Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, up to the areas of Tokwe, Mazowe Bridge, Rushinga and those areas. When I was growing up, there was no home which did not have mortar and pestle and also grinding stone.  This was because our elders knew that such grains were very important in the home.  Even when a visitor pays you a courtesy call and they are hungry, it was so easy to prepare a quick meal for the visitor especially porridge because it is ease to cook these foods. 

I am grateful for the motion raised by Hon. Sen. Tongogara and I think it is up to each one of us as Hon. Members that we preach this gospel of growing these small grains because this will mean the survival of our families and our nation.  What I know is that the grains can do, they are easy to preserve.  You do not need lots of chemicals because when you go to market places such as Mbare, you will have names of all these grains.  In the past, we used to have problems in growing and eating these small grains because the process in preparing them was long and very heavy but as of now, we simply take these grains to the grinding meals and you have your mealie-meal ready.  So, there is no need for us to shun these small grains.

          I am also grateful for this motion because you notice that Government has already taken part in encouraging members to grow these grains.  The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is also saying whoever has any amount of small grains, you will benefit after selling the grain to them.  The support of Government shows that we are in the right path and we should encourage each other because we have heard some of us who are reluctant to grow these small grains because they say birds are a menace.  What I know is birds can only be a menace if few individuals grow small grains in an area but if the whole community grow these small grains, you will not have any problems with the birds.

          I know we all like maize meal but we should know that most of the chronic illnesses which we have emanate from the types of foods which we eat and I am urging my fellow Members; my fellow Parliamentarians; all people of Zimbabwe to grow and eat these small grains because they are healthy and nutritious.  Let us hold Field Days; let us hold Open Days and encourage constituents to grow these nutritious foods because if we grow these different foods, including maize, we will have nutrients and also have healthy life.  People who grow these small grains such as the finger millet and other small grains smile all the way to the granaries because their plants are doing well.  That is why I am very grateful for this motion raised by Hon. Tongogara. We are very grateful for this contribution which you have made.  I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. MOEKETSI: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to this motion.  I just want to add a few words to this motion.  Thank you Hon. Sen.Tongogara and Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi for raising this motion.  Let me start by giving an example of the people where I come from.  I come from Chisumba. Some time back, we used to have a village head called Muombedze.  Mr. Muombedze used to encourage people to grow these small grains, first before you grow any other crops which you want.  He was very strict on that. Before you grow any crop of your choice, you have to start by growing small grains such as sorghum, runinga, millet and any other small grains.

          He would also give reasons why this should be done. He would explain that most of these modern grains suffer from heat stress whenever we have less rains and yet small grains can do well even in times of drought.  Also he would say whenever there is somebody who is sick, the question to be asked when people come to visit the sick person is have you given the person porridge made from rapoko because the reason was that whenever a sick person was given porridge from maize meal, when they throw up, all the nutrients would be lost, yet when they were given porridge made from small grains, when they throw up, nutrients remain in the system.

          I would like to urge our traditional leaders to lead by example in growing these foods.  The village head I was talking about had a communal granary which was meant for storing these small grains because they would help people in times of famine.  I am begging you; I am kindly asking you, Hon. Traditional Leaders, may you please encourage people in your areas to grow these small grains.  People should go back to their tradition and follow their culture.

          The previous contributor on this motion said when we are brewing traditional beer for appeasing our ancestral spirits or our ancestors we use small grains; we all know that we are Africans, we have our culture.  When you go to the market to buy these small grains or mealie meal, a small container which is less than a litre, costs about $15.  So, fellow Members, can you brew a real brew for your ancestors when you buy the meal at such a high price.  Therefore, that is why I am saying let us go back to our culture; let us remember where we came from.  We are being controlled by foreigners and our tastes have been controlled by the foreigners. 

I am salivating as I am talking because I am thinking about the roadrunner, the traditional chicken because you can even eat the skin of the roadrunner.  Our doctors today discourage us from eating the skin of these broilers which grow within a short space of time. When they are educating us on our eating habits, they say broilers have chemicals given to these broilers to grow fast and this causes them to have many diseases.  When we go to these hotels, when you see some people filling their plates with these junk foods, these people are really killing themselves.  Hon. fellow Members, we are killing ourselves; we are committing suicide because of the kind of foods which we are eating.  We think we are into modernity; we think we are doing the Western diet but to be truthful, we are committing suicide; we are killing ourselves.

          In my home, I brew the traditional drink which we call mahewu.  When you visit me, do not be surprised, I will not give you Mazowe or fruit juice but I will give you this mahewu.  I remember my son who is in South Africa, when he paid me a visit, he came with these juices and all those Western foods.  When their drinks ran out, my grandchild wanted a drink and they came to me to ask for juice, what I did was I simply went to my pot and took mahewu, the child refused saying this is not my juice and I said this is the juice I have my grandchild.

          The child went to the mother and cried until in the end the grandfather had to drive out to go and buy the fruit juice.  If that child had been trained that this traditional brew is very nutritious and good, the child would have accepted that mahewu.  Also my children would not have come with their sisters  because they knew that at home there is home brewed drink and that they would have these small grains, eat mice and Mupane worms, however, nowadays, they think that it is poison.  I ask for divine intervention from the Lord above that we go back to traditional foods. I beg traditional leaders to go back to their constituencies and encourage people to grow small grains.   We are committing suicide by eating these junk foods, at times we do not even know what they are flavoured with.

          Some hotels have realised that they should include these traditional foods on their tables but as Africans we do not pick on those dishes with Mupane worms, mice, nuts and other small grains, instead we prefer eating the Western diet.  However, our traditional food is valuable, nutritious, so let us encourage members in our communities to grow these small grains.  Other Hon. Senators who have contributed have asked Government to make a contribution on this.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. SHUMBA: I am very grateful to Hon. Sen. Tongogara and Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi for encouraging the growing of these small grains.  These small grains are very precious, nutritious and are very good for us.  I have heard other Hon. Senators saying their children are not interested in these traditional foods.  As Hon. Members, as elders yourselves do you eat these traditional foods? If not, how do you expect our children to eat when as elders we do not eat such foods? 

          I have noticed that in the hotels they try to include these traditional meals but I have noticed that even Hon. Members shun these traditional meals and go for the maize sadza.   I come from Region 5, in Mwenezi and we grow these grains, we are neighbors with Matabeleland South and this is our traditional foods.  We also brew the traditional drink using sorghum and we also add some additives and it is very nutritious.  Let us not apportion the blame on Government but we should be the starting point, grow these small grains and eat them.

          Do we really know where maize came from? It was brought into the country by the Europeans.  This was a replacement to our traditional food, we had to let go to our finger millet and all our small grains.  We also had some food which was prepared with peas and peanut butter – one would have a very delicious meal.   Let us teach our children to appreciate our traditional foods so that we do not end up saying our children do not like traditional foods.  However, the blame will come back to us because we did not tell them about the appreciation of traditional foods.

          My mother comes from Matabeleland and she used to prepare for us traditional food which in Ndebele was called mavulekwa.  She would take roasted sorghum, grinded it and it would be served with milk which would have been nicely preserved.  My mother would just serve the food into one big dish. She would scoop with a large spoon into each child’s hand.  So we would eat and lick our fingers because it was very nutritious and delicious.  We grew up very healthy; when you look at me, I am healthy and fit because of the traditional food which I grew up eating.  If you again look at me, I am very good looking, rejuvenated and beautiful because of what I used to eat.  When my mother used to serve us with breakfast, she would take sorghum millet and paste it on the edges of the pot and then boil it – in Ndebele they call it maqebelengwane and in Shona it is called zvifutura mvana. Some people do not know these maqebelengwane or mathebe but this is nutritious.  

          My children who are in the diaspora always ask me to send them mealie meal from these small grains so that they can prepare non alcohol beverages using the small grains mealie meal.  Hon. Sen. Tongogara and Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi thank you very much for this motion, it is a progressive motion.  People say when you grow these small grains; you will suffer from attacks from the quelea birds but in my constituency we grow these as a whole district so most of us will be guarding our fields jealously and we make lots of noise whenever these birds come and scare them away;  we also prepare scare crows. When we are preparing these dishes using traditional grains we first grind them using mortar and pestle or the grinding stone.

          Madam President, I would like to bring you some of these meals so that you enjoy and I would also ask for some orders and I will deliver.   We now have some types of seeds for these small grains which are also suitable for areas which have got a lot of rains.  We also have this red sorghum, this is very nice and what I like about this is that we grow this. Let me just give a lesson on growing this small grain. You do not grow it when the rains are still heavy, but when the rains are tapering off, you then grow them and in that way, you really get a bumper harvest. An Hon. Sen. talked about the pumpkin seeds. I tell you what, if you want relish you can use these pumpkin seeds as relish and you really feel you are getting very nutritious food which is delicious - a delicacy. When we are talking about these foods, we are talking about health.

          Today, please allow me and I will be spying on you to see whether after this valuable lesson you will be feeding on the traditional foods in your hotels because I know that you shun them. What I know is that if we do not partake on this food it will soon be extinct, yet we prefer refined maize meal and it is not nutritious. Let us eat traditional foods. Hon. Members who spoke before me talked about chronic illnesses and yet at my age, I am still able to run. When I go to hotels, I also ask for these traditional foods so that I feed on what I grew up eating. Please, let us live by example. We need to teach ourselves and we need to accept this lesson.

          I know the problem why some of you do not like to grow these small grains. The reason is that when you harvest you really have to go crop by crop cutting off the millet head. I think this is where the problem is. People prefer that we need to have mechanisation and harvesters which may be used in harvesting these small grains because at the moment, it is really heavy to go and cut off head by head of these small grains. What I am saying is mechanisation, please we need to have a combine harvester which is going to be used in the small grains because you know the combine harvesters, they harvest and winnow everything so that all you do is to take to your granary.

          We have noticed that these days some people are now threshing these small grains using cattle to tramp on them. That is how you thresh it. So, we need to have some mechanisation to be followed in these grains. I love this motion because it is making us really go back to our culture and tradition. We have some singers who have said things of the past were taken by Abel Muzorewa. We should be living a modern life. I ask the good Lord above to be upon us so that in our next planting season, we need to grow a hectare of these small grains and in that way, our children will appreciate and follow suit. Thank you Hon. President for giving me a chance to make my contribution.

          +HON. SEN. S. NCUBE: Thank you for giving me this opportunity to make my contribution. I also thank the Lord for bringing you back all alive. I had already prepared my contribution and yet I know that when you contribute after all other members have contributed, you may seem to be repeating what will have been said by previous speakers. Hon. Sen. Tongogara and Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi, I want to thank you for this motion.

          I grew up in the rural areas. My contribution has been taken by the previous speaker because she said exactly what I wanted to say. When I grew up in the rural areas, we did not grow maize. Mr. President, may I please have a proper interpreter interpreting for me because I am speaking good Ndebele. I grew up in the rural areas. In my home, we did not grow maize but we grew sorghum and other small millets such as finger-millet and also what was called chibuku and red-Swazi.

          The reason these small grains are no longer being planted these days is because people were not told that these small grains are cash crops. If only people had been told that these small grains are cash crops, most people would be growing them just the way we did when we grew up. In the past, people did not grow these small grains as cash crops, but it was for our own feed. The other reason people do not want to grow these small grains is that we used to use pestle and mortar to prepare these foods. I am not sure if our children can use this pestle and mortar.

          I belong to the Sabbath denomination and on Friday, I would use my pestle and mortar in preparing this food when I was in Grade 7 and before moving to town, and in that area I would fill three containers. When I was coming from school, I would prepare the meals to be used on Friday and I would also have some other grain which would be eaten on the Sabbath Day because on the Sabbath Day we did not cook sadza. The mealie-meal which I will have prepared on Friday would also be for the other coming days. This was not easy, especially using the pestle and mortar and the grinding stone.  

          I would fill these three containers. We used to eat the meal which is called amaqebelengwane in Ndebele. The price of bread has gone up, people are now in problems. I remember when we used to have these amaqebelengwane, we would use salt and sugar. In my home when I am cooking these, I would also put a little bit of mealie-meal and put more flour. When I grew up, I was told that I should eat all the foods and I should not shun any food. I grew up staying with my grandfather and my grandmother. Whenever you say you do not want to eat anything, they would beat you up. They would say if you do not eat this type of food, where will you get the traditional doctor who will treat you so that you eat the food which is available.

          As a result, I was told that as a child, eat what has been provided by your parents. We also have other bread which is baked using soft maize when it is still green mealies. We would nicely grate that maize and wrap it up in the leaves and it is was very delicious. So, you grate the maize from the cob and mould it nicely and cover it up with some maize leaves and boil it.  That is very nutritious.  Today’s children are fed on bread which is not nutritious.  One of our centres said this is poison, it kills our children and disturbs their health.  All these things you are talking about – I do not know the reason why we dumped all the nutritious foods. 

When we are talking about our children, we said our children do not feed on the food that they do not know.  When I came to town, I did not want to eat mealie-meal from the small grains because I had eaten it a lot in the rural areas.  When we ate sorghum, we would start by roasting it, put it in pastry and water and grind it to have our meal.  Now that we have grinding meals, there is need for us to appreciate that.  Because of mechanisation, we now have grinding meals for small grains.  We know there are small grains for Chibuku that can also be used to make sadza and can be a cash crop as well.  People should know that when they grow small grains, they could sell them to the Grain Marketing Board.  As of now, people know that when you grow small grains, you simply store them in your granaries.

Hon. Sen. Tongogara, this is a very good motion which was also introduced in the last Parliament by Hon. Sen. Tholakele.  We ended up nicknaming her ‘Nutrition’ because she used to talk about small grains and the nutrition derived from them.  All the grains you are talking about bring nutrition to the people.  We used to eat pumpkin porridge.  When we were harvesting these pumpkins from the field, we would sit down and would say we want to eat these in porridge.  We would take some barks from the trees which we would use and these would be stored in the granaries.  When we were cooking the pumpkin porridge, we would add some maize meal and serve on relish.  At times, it was so sweet that you do not need to add sugar. 

These are very important things which you use especially if you grow these small grains.  As of now, we are talking about the expense we face on these food stuffs but if we grow these small grains, we would not suffer from these high prices.  Even if we had little rains, these would take care of our nutritious needs. 

The other Hon. Member talked about the meal that you would prepare using milk and this meal which we called umxhaba.  We also have what we called umfutho which is food that is cooked and dried and this other meal is whereby you will have prepared this meal and add some milk and eat it there and then.  Many different food types are produced from these meals.  Some of these are called ukhayezi which we had to put in our lunch boxes and take some grains.  We had to hide that because we would not want to be seen as there were some people who would bring buns at school.  You would notice that when buns were put into a plastic, you would put them in a place where everybody would see that you have buns. 

The other Hon. Senator talked about the food which is called bizha in Ndebele.  I had already put down that as I stated.  Bizha is the peas which when they are grown and a very good harvest comes out are very nutritious.  You can eat them without any additives. My grandmother would roast and grind them and would use that as both a meal and relish.  You could also eat it as raw and this is different from beans because these are beans which are sold. 

The problem we faced was that we were not aware that these were cash crops but in my home, I have felt that I am abusing my children.  Our children know their rights; whatever you do and they feel you are overriding their rights, they will tell you that you are abusing our rights.  In my home, I have taught my children that whatever is prepared in the home, you should eat it because when I grew up I was told that there is no food which is not eaten.  I get surprised with what I see in other homes whereby you have many pots targeted at different children who say they do not eat the main meal that would have been prepared.  I am saying we need to encourage each other as Hon. Senators especially as farmers.  The small grain seeds are very cheap and we need more farmers to grow these.  When there are more farmers, then we have these small grains and we would have mealie-meal. 

When I grew up, I would not feed on rapoko but because I have seen this in hotels, I have realised that it is edible.  Let us appreciate that our traditional food is very nutritious and delicious.  Farmers should be told where the market place is for the traditional foods.  You can also preserve that at the Grain Marketing Board because it is not easily attacked by pest, that is why people are only interested in maize.  I thank you very much.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHIKWAKA:  Thank you Mr. President.  I feel very happy when Hon. Senators appreciate the service of the traditional leaders in upholding our culture.  I am very grateful to Hon. Sen. Tongogara for introducing this motion.  In our culture, whenever the mother introduces anything in the home, we notice that the father, the children and all the relatives in that community will accept it; nobody will turn it down.   That culture will be adopted even by the neighbours. 

Mr. President, when we talk about the growing of small grains, we have not been very serious in growing them but we would only think of the small grains whenever we are faced with some problems such as what has happened this season where we have had very little rains.  The weather forcasters used to tell us that we were not going to have normal rains but we have normal to below normal rainfall. What we know is that if only we were clever, we would have preserved our culture and we would have grown the small grains.  We would have done the right thing because the small grains, from the knowledge gathered from our past, is that even if we have climate change, the small grains can withstand little rainfall.  They do not require much rain. Now if we go back to our culture, even if we did not have weather forecasters, if we uphold our culture and normative values, we used to have some science which would tell us of the future in our climatic conditions.  Our elders would tell you when the winds are blowing from the North, the meaning is this and if it is blowing from the West, they would also know the meaning of that and predict the weather patterns.  They would also tell the future weather patterns when they see wild fruits.  At times, when they see that there are some of these traditional sciences which are happening and not occurring in that particular period, they will tell you there is going to be some disaster.

 I am saying we need to uphold our culture.  Our children have now turned into thieves because of hunger.  People will have problems; there are riots when people are hungry.  What we need to do is to ask our people to start growing these traditional foods because they will help us in upholding peace in the country.  What is obtaining now is that our children are being fed on junk foods and they are becoming obese because of this food.  If we give them traditional food, they will not suffer from obesity.  I am a huge man because I am old.  We have noticed that our children even babies are becoming obese. 

Let me give you some medicinal advice.  In our culture, we know that cancer is not new regardless of the fate it is casting upon today’s generation.  Cancer can be treated by traditional foods.  Cow peas can be used in treating sores.  When we are eating pizza and when we look at the way that food is prepared that is junk food. 

To children of today who call themselves ‘salads’, we are saying salad is raw cheap material.  I am saying let us not take our country to the raw cheap people who suffer from any passing ailment which attacks them because their immune system is weak.  We can only boost our immune system if we feed on traditional foods.  Government should craft a law which makes it compulsory for farmers in both A1 and A2 farms to grow these small grains which will be stored in our granaries – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -  In a time whereby we have very little rains or famine, people will then use these grains.  We used to drink this non-alcoholic drink and porridge made from cow peas.  Unfortunately, we are interested in feeding in refined maize meal.  When we look at people who are suddenly big just as I am, this is what we call uncontrolled obesity because of the poor feeding habits which we have.  We now suffer from chronic ailments such as BP, asthma and diabetes. 

As a traditional leader, I feel very much enthusiastic in supporting this motion. I would like to tell my people to grow these traditional crops.  When we are talking, please support us so that we have traditional foods.  If you do not support us, you will be fed on junk foods that will cause diseases in you.  Some of us are living with chronic illnesses because we are eating genetic modified foods.  When we were growing small grains, they did not need any chemical additives.  Our ancestors would simply clear the fields, burn the trees and grass and grow their crops.  We know that if we start doing that, we will grow the crops and we will sell to them because these Western countries now want organic foods yet as Africans we are eating these foods which have been shunned by the West.  I thank the Hon. Members who have talked about this and we need to go and preach the gospel of good feeding and growing appropriate crops. 

We also need to encourage our hotels to feed people on traditional foods.  Let us feed our children with traditional foods in the crèches, and pre-schools.  They will grow up knowing this is healthy food.  I know that as adults, it may be hard to change because we are used to eating junk foods.  Thank you very much Hon. Sen. Mohadi for bringing this motion to light.

HON. SEN. TONGOGARA:  Mr. President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. MOHADI:  I second. 

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Wednesday, 6th February, 2019.

On the motion of HON. SEN. MOHADI, seconded by HON. SEN. SHOKO, the Senate adjourned at Eight Minutes past Four o’clock p.m. 

 

 

Senate Hansard SENATE HANSARD 05 FEBRUARY 2019 VOL 28 NO 28