ZIMBABWE – National Foods Limited, a leading agri-industrial company in Zimbabwe has launched a new production line solely aimed to process traditional grains, The Herald has reported.
Dubbed “National Foods Traditional Grains Processed Foods” the new development is expected to create jobs, boost business for local farmers, and feed into the national health and nutrition goals.
During the launch, the company revealed that among the new product lines being introduced to the market are finger millet meal, pearl-millet meal, sorghum meal, sorghum-maize meal, and millet-maize meal
National Foods chief executive Mr. Michael Lashbrook said the investment amounting to US$ 40 million started last year would be completed this year.
He added that the company is at “the critical phase of the company’s 103year history” and those investments are coming from “our confidence in the economy and with us looking forward to a bright future.”
According to The Herald, the move was in response to calls made by the country’s first lady Dr. Auxilia Mnangagwa, for players and stakeholders in agriculture to embrace the cultivation and processing of traditional grains in a bid to achieve nutritional security in the country.
Dr. Auxilia, who was present during the launch expressed delight at the move by the company to invest in the production and processing of traditional grains adding that traditional grains are famed and highly recommended for their great nutritional value and medicinal properties.
“We gather here today to witness the launch of healthy and nutritious foods produced from our traditional grains that include sorghum (mapfunde, amabele), pearl millet (mhunga/Inyawuthi), and finger millet (zviyo/Uphoko),” she stated.
Mr. Michael added that the move is the company’s sheer determination to go up the value chain tending to invest in products that have traditionally been imported and that will create a bigger market for local farmers.
During the launch, the company donated tonnes of its processed traditional grains to the country’s 10 provincial hospitals and more donations to Angel of Hope Foundation which has a huge outreach countrywide.
Government backs National Foods
Meanwhile, during the launch, the government of Zimbabwe announced plans to fully support the National Foods by ensuring traditional grain deliveries to NFHL.
According to the executives, National foods had become an invaluable support unit in helping government ensure there is food security.
The government committed to using chiefs, who are the custodians of traditional and small grains at the grass root level to mobilize farmers to grow these grains and deliver them to the National Foods for processing.
In addition, John Basera, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Development said that the move is timely as the government is promoting the growth of traditional grains in dry regions.
According to him, the effort by the government to grow traditional grains aims at mitigating the unpredictable effects of climate change as well as diversifying food production and consumption away from maize to promote nutritional diets.
The government also created the Agricultural Productive Social Protection System fund, into which the government allocated $18 billion to provide 540 000 needy households with 5kg of sorghum seed and 260 000 families with 2kg of millet seed.