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with Finger Millet Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe, Zimbabwe

Belonging to the grass family, finger millet contains valuable nutrients lacking in the diets of hundreds of millions of the poor.

Mrs. Pondoro Small Holder Farmer

About Mrs. Pondoro

A proud Zimbabwean small holder farmer, Mrs. Pondoro works with different farming groups, of mostly women from local villages, to reintroduce lost food crop varieties into the community.

The village of Mrs. Pondoro is located in the low lying area of the Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe District, and receives very low rainfall of only 450-600mm per year.

During the last decade they have experienced massive changes in weather patterns, with rainfall decreasing and becoming increasingly unpredictable. These changes have pushed communities to leave introduced crop varieties, such as maize, and return to growing traditional varieties that have fed past generations for thousands of years. These varieties include sorghum, millets, cowpeas and bambara nuts.

The objective of the community farming group, that Mrs. Pondoro works with, is to empower the community to be able to improve their own lives, solve problems and define their own future by increasing the resilience of small-scale farmers. Local initiatives such as seed fairs, participatory Plant Breeding, Participatory Varietal Selection and seed multiplication have allowed these communities to bring back and enhance traditional crops to be resilient and adaptable to climate change.

As they had never eaten them before, it was difficult to convince the younger generations to change to the ancient grain varieties. However, working with the Ministry of Health and the Community Technology Development Trust, people received information regarding their high nutritional values and were more welcoming of the ancient varieties. Mrs. Pondoro continues to work with community groups to develop new methods of processing traditional foods to make them tastier.

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The recipe

Sadza is to Zimbabweans what rice is to the Chinese or pasta to the Italians. It is a generic term used to describe thickened porridge made out of any number of pulverized grains.

Ingredients - serves 6

  • Roadrunner chicken

    • 1 Rooster, cut into 8 pieces (good quality free range hen can be substituted)
    • 2 onions, chopped
    • 8 ripe tomatoes, chopped
    • 4 Tbsp Pumpkin seed oil (or olive oil)
  • Sadza

    • 1 cup finger millet (can be substituted for pearl millet)
    • Salt
    • Water
  • Nyevhe

    • 2 cups dried nyevhe leaves, soaked in water over night (any dark leafy greens can be substituted, although not of the same nutritional content)
    • 2 Tbsp. Peanut butter
    • Salt


  • Road Runner Chicken

    • 1) Add rooster to pot of gently simmering water. Simmer for 20-40 minutes depending on the age of the bird. When cooked through remove from water and pat dry
    • 2) In a cast iron pot, fry the rooster pieces in the oil until they are browned and then remove and set aside.
    • 3) Add the chopped onions to the pot. Once browned add the chopped tomatoes and return the pieces of rooster.
    • 4) Cover and cook over low heat for 30-60minutes until the rooster is tender.
  • Finger Millet Sadza

    • 1) Toast millet in a dry pan over medium heat. Constantly move the pan or stir to prevent millet from burning.
    • 2) Once millet has changed colour and released toasted aroma, remove from heat and leave to cool. Blend toasted millet to form a fine meal.
    • 3) Add millet meal to a large pot with enough cold water to create a paste.
    • 4) Heat over medium flame, stirring constantly and adding boiling water as required to form a porridge like consistency.
    • 5) Continue cooking for 10-15 minutes until the mixture has thickened and becomes pliable in your hand. In Zimbabwe Sadza is eaten with hands.
  • Nyevhe in Peanut Butter

    • 1) Cook rehydrated nyevhe leaves in salted boiling water, with a pinch of soda (soda can be skipped if using other leafy greens).
    • 2) When leaves are tender, add peanut butter to the water and stir to coat the leaves. Drain.

      Serve rooster alongside sadza and nyevhe leaves.

Nutrition value

Finger millet is a source of vegetable protein, and valuable for containing the amino acid methionine, an essential amino acid that can’t be synthetized in the body and must be obtained from the diet.

Dr. Marta Guasch-Ferré Dietician and PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology

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