Family Farming Knowledge Platform

Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers Forum ZIMSOFF

Type of Organization: Farmers' organization
Areas of work: Small family farmers
Region: Africa
Country: Zimbabwe
The Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF) is a member of the East and Southern Africa Small-scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) and La Via Campesina (LVC) that envisions improved livelihoods of organized and empowered smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe practicing sustainable and viable ecological agriculture. Its mission statement is to influence policies and public awareness towards agroecology and smallholder farmers’ rights struggles for farmer managed seed systems. The organization is the voice of the marginalized smallholder farmers that enhances their meaningful participation in ecological and sustainable agricultural policy making processes and practices in view to uplifting livelihoods. Recognizing the role being played by rural women in agricultural activities that is to feed their families and the nation, ZIMSOFF is bridging the gap through farmer to farmer learning and exchanges towards building the capacities of family farmers so that they are able to engage policymakers and decision making processes on issues affecting their livelihoods. ZIMSOFF works in rural areas in Zimbabwe and its national reach is realized through the organization of regional clusters of local farmers’ organizations. In each cluster households are organized in group/club. A number of this form a community of practice which in other words is called Smallholder Farmer Organization (SFO) and a number of these form a cluster. There are four clusters with over 19 000 members namely the Central Cluster covering Masvingo and Midlands Provinces, the Eastern Cluster covering Manicaland Province, the Northen cluster covering Mashonaland East, West and Central and the Western Cluster covering Matebeleland North and South. Each cluster has an average of 15 smallholder farmer organizations with varying membership. ZIMSOFF is an active founding partner of the Zimbabwe Seed Sovereignty Programme (ZSSP), an alliance of seven Zimbabwean civil society organisations working towards greater seed sovereignty in Zimbabwe. This ZSSP programme places strong emphasis on being farmer-led and strengthening women farmers’ voice, which means that ZIMSOFF is a pivotal partner in this long-term programme. At regional level through collaboration with farmers’ organizations, civil society organizations, research institutions and the academia in Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, ZIMSOFF has become an active participant in the regional Seed and Knowledge Initiative (SKI). As a member of the La Via Campesina (LVC) Southern and Eastern Africa region (SEAf), ZIMSOFF is participating in the regional collectives on climate justice and agroecology, seeds and biodiversity including the women and youth articulations. The farmers’ organization leaders are also active in the Alliance of Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)’s advocacy and campaigns. In recognition of the work of ZIMSOFF on local seed systems, the United Nations (UN) Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) nominated its chairperson, Mrs Elizabeth Mpofu as the Special Ambassador for the 2016 year of Pulses in the African region. In 2017, ZIMSOFF was the international winner of the US Food Sovereignty prize for its role in empowering rural farmers to struggle for seed and food sovereignty. ZIMSOFF recognise the role of women by electing them into leadership and decision making spaces whereby they are occupying importance posts from the grassroots to the national level. Women are playing a central role in planning of most the organisations’ work with most smallholder farmer organisations in the four clusters being led by women. The members are feeding their families through ecological agricultural practices such as local seed saving, organic soil fertility management, water harvesting, agroforestry and small livestock integration. ZIMSOFF has a gender policy that emphasizes women farmers in leadership, economic empowerment and land rights to uplift their lives and tapping into opportunities that exist in Zimbabwe for sustainable livelihoods development. ZIMSOFF has also employed women staff members on key posts of program, finance and administration in order to enhance its international functioning and communication between the national office and members.