MASVINGO - Elizabeth Mpofu, the Shashe Block farmer who recently led a farmers' delegation to Spain, has been appointed Special Ambassador overseeing the Africa Region by the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
Mpofu chairs the Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers' Forum (ZIMSOFF) and is International General Co-ordinator for La Via Campesina, an organisation which represents farmers' interests at international level.
The latest FAO appointment became effective on August 4 this year.
The scope of the position is related to FAO's International Year for Pulses/Legumes, crops which not only provide protein for body building but also maintain and enhance soil fertility.
Mpofu is expected to travel across the African continent, meeting with farmers and promoting the cultivation of legumes as a sustainable method of improving the food and nutrition livelihoods of households in Africa.
"There has been over emphasis on the production of cereals and even our very own Command Agriculture does not recognise the importance of legumes as nutritional foods.
"The production of legumes is meant to reduce the incidence of malnutrition in Africa. It will also reduce the farmers' dependence on cereal seeds which are produced by seed breeders.
ZIMSOFF national co-ordinator and a top ranking official in La Via Campesina, Nelson Mudzingwa spoke glowingly about legume plants.
"Farmers reduce costs by providing their own seed from the last harvest while they continue to enjoy a highly nutritional diet," said Mudzingwa.
Mudzingwa said Mpofu's efforts to uplift the farmer were recognised by FAO after collaborating with the organisation as La Via Campesina's co-ordinator in most of their programmes.
"FAO was not aware that as a local farmers' organisation, we were had explored other alternatives that bypass traditional seed breeding until we began collaborating. The collaborative effort has seen FAO being involved in most of our programmes," Mudzingwa said.news