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Funded by Comic Relief
Funded by Comic Relief
Smallholder with groundnuts & cucumber
Solar Drying Chilli
Using available resources - tree nursery
GardenAfrica is committed to enhancing the existing capacity of local organisations which struggle to provide vital services in health, education and agricultural extension, in the absence of any coherent formal state provision. In consultation with these organisations, GardenAfrica has identified the need to promote improved smallholder productivity and trade, education and nutritional health.

Livelihood Security in a Changing Environment

Working with smallholders in the first pilot province, the project is already increasing the availability of organic produce to supply existing demand which, to date, has been serviced via imports from South Africa. ‘Livelihood Security in a Changing Environment’ sees us teaming up with local partners Fambidzanai Permaculture Centre to select and train smallholders in Mashonaland East to restore agricultural biodiversity, and boost yields and food security; and with the Zimbabwe Organic Producers and Promoters Association to research and access local markets.

As with the now burgeoning organic trade in Kenya and Uganda, the project is also focusing on the development & formal incorporation of national organic standards, and organic market development in Zimbabwe. Four organic associations in each of Mashonaland East's eight districts have now been established. All thirty-two associations are receiving training & support - and are in full compliance their organic standards, with some already accessing national markets for wider distribution.

Having focused on sustainable agricultural production and plant-based livelihoods which mitigate demand for, and dependence on expensive agricultural inputs, this is GardenAfrica’s first ‘organic’ project, through which we aim to create a diverse local food supply driven by communities of viable smallholders.

Please click here to read some of the positive outcomes achieved in this project after two years.

The Challenge:

Average life expectancy for women in Zimbabwe is 34 – with one in seven people thought to be contracting HIV every day, and one in four children have lost one or both parents. Women and girls, to whom vital oral knowledge about natural agricultural systems has been passed, resort to commercial sex work, exposing them to HIV infection and gender-based violence. Mass migration to cities and neighbouring countries has depleted agricultural knowledge and labour. Many households have been forced to barter assets such as livestock and agricultural implements for food. HIV/AIDS, for which there are no reliable official figures, further complicates food security for vulnerable households - reducing their ability to produce or earn income.

Agriculture remains the primary livelihood means for 70% of rural Zimbabwe. In this context the production of high value crops such as maize, sugar and cotton are extremely resource and risk intensive, and are ill suited to the poor soil and rainfall conditions experienced on communal lands - which are not exposed to the politics of land reform. Promotional drives and drought relief packages (hybrid maize and fertiliser) have resulted in a shift to maize cultivation, causing concern about increased susceptibility of these export-driven systems to drought, compared with indigenous grains (sorghum and millet). Hybridised maize cannot be saved and sown for a successive harvests, so must be purchased each year, and is now failing in one out of every three years (with the highest reported failure being every other year).

Sustainable farming strategies to increase soil organic matter (OM) are now urgently needed, as annual ploughing and soluble fertilisers (the cost of which continue to rise) destroy the OM content of sandy soils in five years and clay soils in 10 years, undermining household food security and incomes of rural producers. These factors have conspired to increase the susceptibility of smallholders to debt, drought and pests – creating almost continuous dependence on aid. OCHA reported that up to seven million people (70% of the population) are regular recipients of food aid.

Our Response:

To promote and extend adaptive smallholder farming practices to enhance resource and food security through the establishment of organic producer and trading networks in Zimbabwe.

This project is working with producers and partners to:
•    Adopt natural, high-yielding practices for local food & resource security
•    Support the establishment of a network of organic producer associations
•    Facilitate entry to organic markets
•    Inform agricultural and trade policy regarding the benefits of organic agriculture

Result: The establishment of a network of resource and food secure smallholder associations with increased productive capacity, status and access to market.

Collaborating Partners:

•    Fambidzanai Permaculture Centre
•    ZOPPA
•    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
•    Practical Action

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