ECHO Food Security Coordinator in Zimbabwe FAO, WFP project visits
Meeting with farmers and local input dealers in Matabeleland in Zimbabwe, visiting a garden planted specifically for the purpose of enhancing nutrition and seeing a cattle dip, Calum Mclean, the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department’s, Global Food Security Thematic Coordinator was able to appreciate the work being done in FAO and WFP projects on the ground.
Through a European funded project, FAO is supporting small-scale farmers in Zimbabwe to acquire seeds, fertilizers and farming equipment using electronic and paper vouchers. Farmers each receive assistance valued at USD 80 and for their part contribute USD 80, bringing the total value of inputs to be purchased to USD 160. The inputs are then redeemed at pre-identified dealers and at livestock fairs.
Kholisani Mpala an agro-dealer operating a store at Mabhunu business centre in Lupane, Zimbabwe said that prior to participating in the project, lack of capital hampered his ability to order directly from suppliers, thus forcing him to deal with middleman.
“My retail prices were very high. I had no access to capital so was forced to use middlemen who offered me goods on credit with a high interest rate”, he said. “There is a huge difference now, the programme has helped me a lot and it has increased the number of clients I have, and with whom I will continue to do business long after the voucher input programme has ceased,” he added.
The project improves the links between wholesalers and dealers in rural areas, giving local dealers the opportunity to market greater volumes of inputs and boost their incomes.
In Menyezwa in Lupane, WFP’s “food-for-assets” programme has been helping vulnerable rural communities repair and develop essential local infrastructure in exchange for food assistance.
The area is faced with perennial water scarcity issues. The sandy soils do not retain much water, the nearby rivers run dry soon after the rainy season and the closest cattle dipping site is almost 20 kilometres away. To address these challenges, the community have rehabilitated a borehole, which is now providing access to fresh and clean water to more than 300 families.
Close to the borehole, a dip tank is being constructed to help reduce diseases that affect livestock. While the project is supplying building materials, the local community is providing the labour for construction. Upon completion, the dip tank will reduce animal walking distance and allow an estimated 1 500 cattle to be dipped.
Mr McLean appreciated the impact FAO, WFP and other partners were having in transforming the daily lives of local farmers and the rural population in these areas. He called for increased coordination and collaboration between all those involved in food security and agriculture activities in order to cut costs, minimize duplication and maximize the impact of these projects.