On 23 March 2023, the commemoration of the International Year of Millets (IYM) was held in Masvingo, the country’s oldest city resonating with this year’s IYM slogan 'rich in heritage, full of potential
Millets, often called 'Nutri-Cereals' due to their high nutritional content can grow on poor soils with little inputs. They are resistant and tolerant to many crop diseases and pests and can survive adverse climatic conditions. With the imminent effects and impact of climate change, investing in cultivation of millets is imperative and urgent to address the growing food and nutrition security challenges.
In March 2021, the UN General Assembly at its 75th session declared 2023 the International Year of Millets (IYM) with the objective to raise awareness of, and direct policy attention to the nutritional and health benefits of millets and their suitability for cultivation under adverse and changing climatic conditions.
“The Government of Zimbabwe recognises that traditional grains can contribute to the prevention and alleviation of food and nutrition insecurity in the face of climate change as is being witnessed with more years of limited rainfall and long mid-season dry spells that are affecting crop production and productivity in the country,” said Vangelis Haritatos, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development during the official opening of the celebrations.
The International Treaty on promotion of millets is a major global agreement to manage plant genetic resources for food and agriculture around the world for the benefit of people everywhere. Promotion of millets is within the narrative of the new fit-for-purpose FAO’s Strategy on Climate Change which encompasses game-changing, innovative and science-based solutions, through effective collaboration and strong partnerships working collectively towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Aligning to the FAO’s Strategic Framework and Zimbabwe’s Country Programming Framework priority on building resilience to climate change, the celebrations presented an opportunity to highlight the benefits of millets for Better production, Better nutrition, a Better environment and a Better Life – leaving no one behind. The commemoration also facilitated field visits to projects in Manicaland and Masvingo provinces presenting a unique opportunity to learn and share experiences of millets cultivation in the country.
In conclusion, it was agreed that in view of the Government’s support, there was need to take advantage of the enabling policy landscape for millet promotion and production in Zimbabwe and the region at large.