Sharon Chigeza Mutare Correspondent
COMMUNAL farmers in Manicaland are set to benefit from agro-business projects aimed at improving their incomes as well as food security.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Muzvuzvu Agribusiness hub field day funded by Agriseeds and Linkages for Economic Advancement of the Disadvantaged (LEAD) in Chimanimani last week, LEAD finance and administration manager, Itayi Karumazondo said the five-year USAID funded programme sought to assist farmers in natural regions 3, 4, and 5.
“LEAD is implementing a programme called ‘Feed the Future Zimbabwe crop development,’ which will be rolled out in five years and is targeting smallholder farmers in natural farming regions 3, 4 and 5.
“The major thrust of the programme is to improve incomes, food security and nutrition to such households,” he said. Mr Karumazondo said the organisation was implementing development programmes in Chimanimani; assisting communal farmers develop into agro-businesses that will improve household incomes as well as food and nutrition security.
He added that they were using an agribusiness hub model under which they brought farm input suppliers, farmers, financiers and buyers together teaching them best agro-economic practices that help enhance yields.
“We use an agribusiness hub model where we invite input suppliers, buyers, micro financiers and provide a platform where they discuss and teach farmers best agronomic practices for best yields.
“We also focus on identifying the market farmers are targeting so that they produce for a specified viable market.
“By bringing financiers and suppliers into the mix results, we give farmers the zeal for produce for business rather than just for household consumption,” said Mr Karumazondo.
The Chimanimani community is also being trained in good gender practices, nutrition as well as hygiene within their farming communities.
It is against this background that the programme aims to have at least 50 percent of its participants as women as well as 10 percent youths to ensure an all encompassing food programme.
Mr Karumazondo added that the programme did not offer any handouts to farmers as a way of promoting a hardworking spirit as well as allow the programme to be sustainable.