The Zimbabwe Agriculture Production and Agribusiness Development (ZAPAD) project improves household livelihoods in communal areas of Zimbabwe by increasing farm incomes and food security and improving agricultural production and productivity. ZAPAD works with the local communities to improve access to inputs and markets, increase agricultural production and productivity, create a network of agricultural service providers and strengthen farmer organizations.
ZAPAD determined that establishing a solid cash crop would enable local communities to fund crops that provide food security and could lead to diversification of cash crops. Cotton is the primary cash crop for the ZAPAD project.
Functioning under the belief that long-term sustainability can be achieved by building local capacity, ZAPAD works to strengthen existing local institutions while developing new business-focused groups. These groups work to achieve economies of scale in production, purchase inputs, improve marketing activities and exploit other agribusiness opportunities. ZAPAD identified four groups which are the focus of the project’s work:
- Farmer Organizations / Farmer Groups: ZAPAD builds capacity in local farmer groups so that they function effectively as agri-businesses. The goal is to establish local institutions that will serve members’ needs for input supply, marketing and extension services.
- Village Business Promoters and Lead Farmers: To establish a permanent knowledge and skills base within the community, ZAPAD trains farmer extension agents, which are linked to the Ministry of Agriculture Rural Extension Service and the cotton companies. The extension agents will communicate ongoing productivity improvements.
- Agro-Service Providers: ZAPAD trains and supports skilled service providers to operate as entrepreneurs and become a permanent fixture in agricultural value chains.
- Agro-Dealers: A revitalized input supply system must be easily accessible to the majority of farmers, in the rural base. Linking agro-dealers to suppliers for a range of agro-livestock products is a first step in this process.
Impacts on Food Security in Zimbabwe
Within the first six months of the project:
- 10,074 farmers have joined ZAPAD network
- 22 percent of these farmers are women
- 400 farmer groups were established
- 157 producer groups have received business skills training
- 8,269 people attended 83 “demonstration days,” held to introduce new technologies to support cotton farming
- 2,300 attendees were women
- Over half of the attendees expressed interest in purchasing one or more of the technologies