THE United Kingdom through the Department for International Development (DFID) has supported agriculture sector in Zimbabwe with a view of reducing poverty in rural areas.
The DFID’s perspective is grounded in the recognition that agricultural production depends on and is driven by demand from buyers, processers and ultimately consumers along the supply chain, and that agro-industry plays a critical role in value addition, job creation and in shaping diets.
In Zimbabwe DFID implements programs that cover 3 thematic areas namely; agriculture productivity and nutrition, market development and climate change mitigation. DFID’s programs seek to capacitate smallholder farmers to produce for sustenance andfor sale if there is a surplus.
DFID operates in 8 districts found in Mashonaland Central, Midlands and Manicaland provinces. The districts covered in Mashonaland Central are Guruve and Mount Darwin while in Midlands province it supports farmers in Gokwe South, Kwekwe and Shurugwi.
In Manicaland province the districts covered are Mutasa, Makoni and Mutare. The districts were selected based on poverty levels, food insecurity, the prevalence of stunting and potential for market development.
According to DFID, the agriculture productivity and nutrition programme which is managed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), seeks to support the enhancement of productive and technical knowledge of farmers through production technology, bio-fortified and high yielding varieties, rural market financing for training of smallholder farmers.
Given that maize is a staple crop for Zimbabwe DFID prioritized its bio-fortification and fortification for the crop to become more nutritious and accessible to poor households in sufficient quantities.
In that regard, DFID supports bio-fortification and fortification at various stages of the production and supply chain and through strategic social marketing to ensure wide adoption and competitive pricing.
Other crops supported in the bio-fortification and fortification programme are beans and groundnuts.
Furthermore, DFID also support livestock production to improve on quality through pen fattening projects and improvement of breeds for small livestock such as goats.
With respect to market development DFID explained that it is helping farmers to access markets since markets are an part of an integral production plan.
In that regard, DFID is working with the private sector to finance livelihoods and food security programme (LFSP) that promote aggregation at national and community levels, promote market linkages at farmer group level and development of commodity associations. In market aggregation the programme is implemented in partnership with private companies such as Super Seeds, Seed Co-op and MCMeats.
The development partner indicated that it also support livestock projects and also provides funding to micro-finance institutions under the Zimbabwe Market Finance Fund facility.
DFID underscored that it has received a GBP20 million LFSP facility which will run for the next 2.5 years following the expiry of another GBP 70 million 4 year LFSP in August 2018 that was financed by UK and AusAID.
The climate change mitigation programme is carried out in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and AGRITEX officers in the Ministry of Agriculture to promote climate smart agriculture.
A Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) worth GBP21.5 million supported by the UK government and the European Union (EU) has been put in place to that effect. The ZRBF seeks to contribute to increased capacities of vulnerable rural farmers to withstand shocks and stress, ultimately leading to a reduced need for humanitarian responses and welfare improvement.
The fund supports farmers in natural regions 4 and 5 to grow small grain crops suitable for their areas. In addition to that it also mitigates effects of climate change through drilling of boreholes and providing finance for irrigation kits.
Other programs that DFID finances are post-harvest loss and storage issues and taking the product to the market before it loses quality. Source The State of Zimbabwe’s Agricultural Sector Survey 2019