Traité international sur les ressources phytogénétiques pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture

BSF Project - Third Cycle

Community Based Conservation, Utilization and Management of Climate Adapted Sorghum, Pearl-Millet, Cowpea and Bambaranuts in Matebeleland South Province of Zimbabwe
Where are we working?
Food insecurity is sharply increasing in Zimbabwe due to a hazardous reduction in annual rainfall. Temperatures are also rising, leading to high evapotranspiration and hence further water loss. Matebeleland South province is particularly affected. Climatic changes have significantly reduced yields, particularly of cereals such as maize. Traditional ‘small grain’ crops such as sorghum and pearl millet have been abandoned for various reasons in favour of maize. Yet, small grains produce good yields under drought conditions, ensuring food security among smallholder farmers.
This Benefit-sharing project is reviving and strengthening on-farm and community level seed conservation and management of sorghum, pearl millet, cowpeas and Bambarra nuts to increase resilience and food security of small farmers in the face of climate change.
This Benefit-sharing Fund project is improving the livelihood of farming communities through on-farm conservation and sustainable management of locally adapted crop varieties.

What are we doing?
  • Promoting and strengthening on-farm and community level seed conservation and management of sorghum, pearl millet, cowpeas and Bambarra nuts;
  • Establishment of community seed banks to empower communities in seed conservation at the local level, and maximizing conservation of locally adapted landraces;
  • Collection of germplasm for conservation at the national gene bank in Zimbabwe and the regional SADC gene bank in Zambia;
  • Organization of field days as platforms for information exchange on variety performance, and seed fairs as platforms for knowledge and seed exchange;
  • Capacity building of different stakeholders (extension technicians and farming communities) in the context of climate change adaptation.

What has been achieved to date?
On-farm evaluation and multi-location trials of different crop varieties have been performed and have resulted in the release of four cowpea varieties and two pearl millet varieties to date. The trials have been instrumental in determining variety performance across different management approaches and agro-ecological regions, aiding future selection for adaptability.
Improved germplasm has been disseminated to farmers participating in varietal evaluations and seed multiplication processes. Capacity building workshops have been successfully organized in farming communities and technical training programmes have been provided to extension officers and other agricultural officials.
Moreover, and underwriting the long-term sustainability of project initiatives, all project partners have enhanced their links with each other and built connections with community level seed conservation structures.

Who has benefited?
The project reached out to 688 predominantly female-headed households translating into 3006 individuals. Of these households, 320 have benefited from the introduction of new varieties for on-farm evaluations from the crop breeding institute and the national gene bank, while 248 benefited from their participation in seed multiplication of improved cowpea varieties. Additionally, community capacity building directly benefited 1820 farmers (564 men and 1256 women). More farmers and other members of rural communities across the project districts of Bulilima, Gwanda, Matobo and Mangwe benefited from the project through improved seed and information exchange.
A total of 20 governmental extension officers (7 women and 13 men) benefited from training programmes in the context of climate change adaptation, participatory plant breeding and cowpea seed production techniques.
A series of radio broadcasts by StarFM have highlighted the importance of small grains to combat hunger. StarFM station has an audience of over one million listeners ranging from urban youths to entrepreneurs and policy makers.

Best practices and success stories
The project was able to support farmers in their struggle to produce sufficient and good quality food to nourish their families by reintroducing small grain crops and empowering farmers to identify the best seeds for their environmental and climatic conditions, as well as save and preserve them.
Farmer-to-farmer seed and information exchange at fairs, as well as their involvement in evaluations, trials and selection provided a robust backing to project objectives, increased uptake of new varieties and accelerated their development.
Bambara gruondnuts, Cowpea et al., Pearl Millet, Sorghum
Window 2 - Immediate action projects
Region: Africa
Target Countries: Zimbabwe
Implementing institution: Practical Action

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