How safe is the vegetable Zimbabweans are eating?

Zwnews Chief Correspondent

The Mbare Musika, in Harare, is a marketplace of its own kind, one can find any assortment of desire, from carpentry products, metal work, textiles, to food-staffs, the vegetable market offers a range of fresh and dried, for those who want garden fresh rape, covo, lettuce, or cucumbers among others, Mbare musika is the place to search.

For a first time visitor to the place, the astonishment of finding such an assortment of greens under one roof is a common feature, for some the amazement would be accompanied by the question of the source of such products, from how they are farmed, under which surroundings, to how the vegetables are handled all the way until the final destination (consumers in households).

Recently, this reporter happened to travel in one truck laden with vegetables from Marondera to Harare. The truck was coming from Macheke, with people in blankets on top the vegetables, this writer asked one of the farmers why was that so, who claimed that it was the norm.

In most cases people and blankets, and vegetables mix and mingle.

It seems nobody cares.

The vegetable transporters travel late in the night for two major reasons, first so that they are at the market very early, and second so that they maintain the freshness of their produce, which could be easily lost due to the heat of daytime.

Taking aside how the products are produced, what type of manure used, and the produce is transported, has anyone ever thought of how the vegetables are protected from pests? In most cases farmers use pesticides to protect their produce, that not the matter at all, but the issue is how safe are the vegetables from residual chemicals.

On entering the Musika, there are no tests carried out to determine if the vegetables are free from chemical residue. Though no case has been reported so far, nor has it been clinically proven, it is clear that in the long run some would be affected by the side effects associated with pesticides.

During that transit, a farmer who spoke to this publication said for them to know that the vegetables are now chemical free, they wait for seven days, from the day of spraying to harvesting. “Even if you see white substance on the leaves, for as long as you have harvested the vegetables after seven days, it is safe for consumption,” said the farmer who declined to be named.

Vegetables delivered to Mbare should be checked for this; however, in our case even the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe is silent on the matter. In countries like South Africa, this topic is a cause for concern and the red flag is being raised.