Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
The agriculture sector can be transformed through integrated programming and strong partnerships based on institutions comparative advantages, a senior Government official has said.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement permanent secretary, Dr John Basera said this at a virtual event to mark the end of the Zimbabwe Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LFSP) yesterday.
The programme which started in 2014 to tackle multiple needs of the smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe has seen a significant improvement in food production, nutrition and security and improving livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
The overall programme reached out to over 250,000 smallholder households translating to over 1,25 million people with an integration of various components for which nutrition-sensitive agriculture was central to it. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in collaboration with other partners including Government implemented the LFSP in 12 rural districts of Zimbabwe.
Dr Basera said the Ministry took a bold step in promoting Pfumvudza plots this season, encouraged by the on-farm trials by Foundation for Farming and the pilots done in LFSP districts.
“This has seen the country completely transforming the face of smallholder agriculture and contribution to national output. For the preceding season, the Pfumvudza Plots are contributing more than 40 percent of the total bumper grain harvest with no less than five tonnes per hectare yield levels.
“The practice-based evidence from LFSP implementation with the application of resilient, sustainable and low input technologies including bio-fortification and agro-ecology should be used to inform other development programmes going forward so that we do not duplicate or continue in piloting mode,” he said
In a speech read on her behalf, by representative Dave Mollat, Ms Francesca FCDO director said initially the LFSP design thus took a long-term approach for tackling the multiple needs of farmers (knowledge and skills on climate-resilient technologies, nutrition-sensitive agriculture and access to finance and markets) to achieve sustained income increases and reduce poverty for over 250,000 smallholder farmers.
“By end of 2018, despite successive extremely poor seasons and volatile macro-economic context, the programme had managed to transform the attitudes and practises of smallholder farmers and their value chain actors towards resilient production systems and market innovations,” she said.
FAO country representative, Dr Patrice Talla said FAO had been managing the collaboration of institutions in support of an integrated intervention covering extension and advisory services, market development, nutrition and bio-fortification, rural finance and policy support.
“What we have witnessed today indeed depicts the food systems approach key to transforming the livelihoods and sustaining production systems. Food and agriculture have a decisive role to play in achieving the SDGs by 2030, especially ending hunger and poverty and transforming food systems including sustaining the world’s ecosystems, preserving natural resources and combatting climate change,” he said.