BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
SMALL-HOLDER farmers in Chiredzi and Mangwe districts will be assisted to grow climate-resilient crops after the Indian government handed over agricultural inputs to the World Food Programme (WFP), which will be distributed to the farmers.
Working alongside other partners, WFP Zimbabwe, will also provide agricultural expertise through its Small-holder Agricultural Market Support programme to strengthen the capacity of more than 6 000 small-holder farmers who have been selected to partake in the programme.
Agritex director Stancilae Tapererwa yesterday told journalists at the handover ceremony in Harare that the inputs will benefit 60 extension officers from Chiredzi and Mangwe districts to capacitate them to adopt smart-technologies in agriculture.
“We appreciate the good gesture by India and WFP Zimbabwe and we are well-advised that the funds from India will come through the United Nations World Food Programme Zimbabwe for building the resilience of small-holder farmers in Mangwe and Chiredzi by increasing small grain production and productivity and improving market access,” Tapererwa said.
“This WFP-India-UN fund will capacitate and support 3 484 farmers from Mangwe and 2 602 in Chiredzi district, which are 6 086 farmers in total. A total of 60 extension officers from the two districts will be capacitated as they are responsible for making sure the farmers adopt climate smart technologies such as conservation agriculture, now commonly referred to as the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme.”
In August this year, India availed US$1 million to WFP in Zimbabwe to tackle climate shocks.
WFP country director Fransesca Ardelmann said the inputs would go a long way in empowering small-holder farmers.
“This year, we have been collectively empowering small-holder farmers in rural areas to better prepare for climate-related events such as recurring droughts, reaching out to 6 500 people across the two districts of Chiredzi and Mangwe, and implemented through United Nations WFP’s Small-holder Agriculture Markets Support Programme,” she said.
“In Zimbabwe, small-holder farmers have been severely affected by food insecurity over the past years. Many people in rural areas, particularly women, make up a very significant proportion of the agricultural sector. We supported these vulnerable people during critical times, barely recovering from prolonged years of drought, unpredictable weather patterns and then compounding impacts of COVID-19 and limited livelihood opportunities.”