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Foro Global sobre Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición • Foro FSN

Re: Call for experiences and effective policy approaches in addressing food security and nutrition in the context of changing rural-urban dynamics

Kathryn Richards
Kathryn RichardsETG Farmers FoundationZimbabwe

ETG Farmers Foundation (EFF)
Export Trading Group (ETG)

Main responsible entity

2014 – 2017

Funding source
Partnerships and donor funding (UKaid)

Zimbabwe: Various

Zimbabwe has been facing continuous food security and poverty issues due to economic instability and continued climate change affected weather conditions adding to poor food production in-country. This has caused a surge of Zimbabweans to seek alternative sources of income and caused a rise in rural to urban migration. Therefore, with Zimbabwe having become extremely sensitive to climate shocks and drought conditions over the past few years it is necessary for smallholder farmers to seek out new and alternative cash crops that are drought resilient and are guaranteed a market to ensure commodity sales to increase their available income. It is necessary to alleviate poverty in rural areas to slow the urban migration as Zimbabwean cities are not developed enough to handle the rising populous numbers. The Zimbabwean market is in need of an export market and potential domestic market and ETG can provide that market with sesame and Zimbabwe can benefit from the entire value chain.

The introduction and promotion of sesame in Zimbabwe has provided an alternative source of income for farmers who are affected by their semi-arid regions. Currently these farmers depend largely maize on, cotton or other smaller crops in horticulture and due to erratic rain patterns the crop failure risk is quite high. Sesame during the trial period of 2014-15 proved to be very resilient under low rainfall conditions in Gokwe; encouraging smallholders to successfully adapt to sesame cultivation.

To improve livelihoods and food security through partnerships towards the goals and this program addresses particularly SDG 17.1, 17.7, 17.11, 17.15, 17.16, and 17.17.

To create entrepreneurial smallholder farmers: to provide a new and alternative cash crop to the Midlands region and provide farmers with a guaranteed market to improve rural livelihoods, increasing family annual incomes, nutrition and economic standings.

Key characteristics of the experience/process
This collaboration between government, private sector and civil society is an effort to promote the Sustainable Development Goal towards no poverty through SDG 17; Partnerships for the goals. The program should be sustainable due to the relationship established between the smallholder farmer and our private sector partner who provides a guaranteed market and stable source of income to the smallholder.

EFF has a clear perspective from seed to end user/global consumer; taking a unique position in the commercial agri-sector to build a sustainable contract farming model that identifies the gaps and weaknesses and focuses on strengthening production up to the marketing of the crop. Under this programme, EFF aims to continue to strengthen its partnership with financial institutions to provide farmers with rural finance for inputs.

Stage 1:
Pilot created awareness of a new cash crop by “seeing is believing” innovation along with agronomic training, crop production analysis and showing profitability to the farmers at the end of the season. Formed farmer groups and tapped into existing farm groups to register interested farmers and link them with financial institutions. This stage also consisted of the selection and training of Agritex, government extension officers, lead farmers and field extension staff.

Stage 2:
This stage consisted of continued education and farmer training on sesame along with seed distribution. EFF aimed to offer more than a steady market to a smallholder farmer. The training consisted of technical skills along with farming for business education on the benefits of being a good sesame farmer and how she/he can contribute to the global agri-market successfully. By making the smallholder communities more aware about the globalisation/world market and its relationship with Zimbabwean communities EFF hoped to motivate the farmers in a holistic way.

Stage 3:
This stage consisted of best post-harvest handling techniques and training on cleaning, storage and transportation and how these factors affect quality. This was advanced through the provision of cleaning equipment this season to farmers at the rural depots and procurement points in order to provide the farmer with the best possible price for their commodity and to ensure their continued commitment to the sesame crop and the supply of quality sesame to the private sector partner.

Key actors involved and their role
IETC Zimbabwe (subsidiary of ETG) – Private sector partner providing inputs and technical expertise and is the commodity purchaser.

ETG Farmers Foundation – implementing partner, providing training, demonstration plots and in-field support through field extension officers

Consortium Partners:

Agricultural Partnership Trust – Field monitoring and support
Welthingerhilfe – farmgate engagement and monitoring
Palladium – donor funding pool – market developer
JepAgri – sesame seed distributor (incorporating and strengthening local SME)
Intercrest Capital Ltd and Inclusive Financial Services – providers of financial packages for farmers to be able to purchase input packages.

Key changes observed with regards to food security and nutrition and sustainable agriculture and food systems
It is too early to assess the full impact of the programme on food security and nutrition. The growth of the program beyond the defined programme perimeters shows the willingness and success of sesame as an alternative cash crop. The programme offers farmers a resilient crop with a guaranteed sustainable local and international market. Monitoring and evaluation will continue with an impact assessment to ascertain the continuation of the relationship between the private sector and smallholder farmers towards the alleviation of rural poverty.

The involvement of women has a greater impact on food security improvement as women farmers have been seen to spend a larger percentage of their income on household food consumption.

The addition of processing of the sesame in a local factory in Harare has led to increasing urban employment and skills development. This ETG factory helps domestic capacity by keeping as much of the value chain processes within Zimbabwe to alleviate domestic rural and urban poverty.

Challenges faced
Sesame production within Zimbabwe used to only happen on a large commercial scale with established infrastructure and processes. Due to the economic collapse in Zimbabwe and the adjustment to smallholder farming schemes sesame has all but disappeared from production within country. Technical training and adaptation to a new crop with more intensive labour needs has been a challenge with the majority of smallholders possessing just the knowledge for the staple crops. This has been tackled through the introduction of supportive field staff who possess a wealth of agricultural knowledge on sesame production and through field demonstration plots, accompanied by field training and support to lead farmers in order to increase our area of coverage and support for the production of sesame and the support of all smallholders endeavouring to grow the commodity and increase their livelihood.

The unpredictable climatic conditions in Zimbabwe have been a challenge. Sesame being a drought resilient crop has performed well in dry conditions, however, it was a challenge when floods were experienced in various areas of operation.

Sesame is still a relatively new crop. Even farmers who have been growing sesame over the past two seasons are still new to the farming practices. The few existent sesame farmers in Zimbabwe have not had a stable reliable market as some have sold to informal cross border traders while small volumes have been procured by local companies. Dust content was an issue and low quality sesame was grown by the few existing sesame farmers. Sesame remains largely a smallholder crop in Africa mainly due to lack of mechanization tools for planting, harvesting and cleaning at the farm gate level.

Lessons/Key messages
This programme has enlightened many farmers with an entrepreneurial spirit – moving them from purely subsistence farming to sustainable farming by introducing a new variety of cash crops and training them to properly grow the commodity to get the best market price. Rural transformation is necessary to ensure food security. This project ensures rural transformation is done through the promotion of an entrepreneurial spirit garnered and supported by a private sector partner who provides the crucial market access.