By AMOS BATISAYI
SMALL-HOLDER farmers in Gokwe, Midlands province, have applauded initiatives by Agriculture Business Centre (ABC), a pro-business investment vehicle which is capacitating them to identify value chains with high-income generating projects.
The project is funded by the European Union and is being implemented by a German charity organisation, Welthungerhilfe, with the support of Empretec Zimbabwe.
It is also a capacity-building programme of the United Nations’ (UN) trade agency UNCTAD.
ABC is promoting climate smart agriculture through production of drought-resilient crops to counter the effects of climate change.
The social enterprise is promoting crops such as bambara nuts popularly known as nyimo, sorghum, pearl millet, sunflower and chilies. Farmers can have a bumper harvest without applying additional nutrients such as fertilizers.
Smallholder farmers in Gokwe have been struggling to buy inputs such as fertilizers and herbicides.
Shallom Mtakiwa, a small-holder farmer from Mateta ward 5, said after being trained on how to grow drought-resistant crops, she was no longer using fertilizers as the soils have natural nutrients, while sunflower and other drought-resistant crops can survive through dry spells.
Fumisani Sibanda, another small-holder farmer from ward 32, said for the past two years, ABC had been contracting smallholder farmers.
Nicholas Serimwe of ward 10 under Chief Nemangwe said ABC was providing a ready market for chillies.
During the 2020-21 farming season, more than 2 900 small-holder farmers were contracted to produce different crops.
ABC general manager Vernon Mushoriwa said: “The ABC has identified several value chains that have the potential of transforming livelihoods in Gokwe. It has also set up a plant to produce sunflower oil which is sold back to the communities at affordable prices as a way of ploughing back to the community. The sunflower cake is used to produce stockfeed which is sold to the communities as well.