To combat food insecurity and unemployment in Zimbabwe, CLUSA has initiated a 3-year, $2 million USAID-funded program to increase smallholder production by lowering costs and losses in post-harvest handling, improving product quality and increasing on-farm value addition. CLUSA is also promoting market linkages between small-scale communal producers with private sector buyers and local distributors. The objective of USAID/Zimbabwe’s Agricultural Income and Employment Development Program is to increase incomes and food security of agricultural producers and to generate more income and rural employment of rural agro-business through increased agricultural production, productivity, agro-processing and investment. NCBA CLUSA focuses on organization strengthening for farmer groups and expansion of the Rural Group Enterprise network. CLUSA has also rolled out the Farming as a Business training approach to all producer associations benefitting from Zim-AIED’s rapid commercialization of target products across the country.
Agricultural Income and Employment Development Program
Zim-AIED’s assistance will help jumpstart the process of sustainable, private sector driven agricultural recovery. Given the importance of women in rural areas, and particularly their involvement in agricultural production, the program will also place emphasis upon working with female farmers and agro-entrepreneurs and encouraging action on issues that constrain women’s participation in agriculture.
The Zim-AIED program has ambitious objectives, aiming to reach over 50,000 smallholder farmers with technical trainings within three and a half years of implementation. After two years of program implementation, NCBA CLUSA has effectively benefitted over 35,000 smallholder farmers and agricultural producers in Zimbabwe.
Many smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe practice subsistence agriculture, and limit their production due to market barriers. NCBA CLUSA organized smallholder farmers into formal groups trained them in Farming as a Business (FAB). This ‘mini MBA’ training focuses on basic business skills including enterprise budgeting, contract management, credit control, record-keeping, risk management and basic principles of marketing. The Zim-AIED program has trained over 6,000 smallholder farmers on Farming as a Business.
Zimbabwe Agriculture Production and Agribusiness Development Project
ZAPAD improves household livelihoods in the communal areas of Zimbabwe by increasing farm incomes and food security through improved agricultural production and productivity. ZAPAD functions on the belief that long term sustainability is achieved through building local capacity to operate independently. Essential to the ZAPAD philosophy is the use and strengthening of existing local institutions, while striving to develop new business-focused groups that are able to achieve economies of scale in production, purchase inputs, improve marketing activities, and exploit other agribusiness opportunities.
The ZAPAD project works towards four objectives:
1) Improve access to inputs and markets
2) Increase agricultural production and productivity
3) Create a network of agricultural service providers
4) Strengthen farmer organizations
Some of the ZAPAD program accomplishments include:
• 10,074 Farmers have joined the ZAPAD networks, 22% of these are women;
• 400 Farmer Groups have been established within the first 6 months of the project;
• 157 Producer Groups have been strengthened through business skills training;
• 83 technical trainings were held to introduce three new agricultural technologies to 8,269 participants (28% women). The program experienced over 56% adoption rate of the new agricultural technologies within the first year of implementation, including conservation agriculture rippers, weed wipes, and jab planters.
Of all the farmers ZAPAD was working with, only 22% were female, while 78% were men. An insignificant fraction of the women held positions of authority in farmer groups to participate in decision-making echelons. Neither did women have full access to and control over of resources upon which they depend upon, such as land and agricultural inputs.
Women’s Business Platform
NCBA CLUSA established the Women’s Business Platform, which is a forum where women from different areas and businesses meet to discuss business with the intention to explore opportunities and strategies for improved engagement and growth. The strategy was that ZAPAD used the forum to provide relevant training to women leaders in business skills, marketing, and business math so that the trained leaders can train other women through a multiplier effect. Creation of WBPs enabled women to actively participate without the domination of men as is the case in mixed and male-dominated group and meetings.
“As women, we determine who we want to be, men only assist us to achieve that” Mrs. Stephen remarked at a women’s business platform meeting sponsored by the USAID-ZAPAD project