By Maria Lanteri

In the village of Gwangwawa, about 250 kilometers north-east of Harare, in the District of Rushinga, an agricultural project was launched in December 2020 to mitigate the growing threat to food and nutrition security due to the negative impact of COVID-19 and in response to the challenges caused by the effects of climate change.

The project is carried out on 3.5 hectares of land. Of these, 1.5 hectares have been put under drip irrigation with brand new infrastructure, and beneficiaries have been trained in agronomy and financial literacy so that they better manage the project.

Gwangwawa village comprises over a hundred households with an average of eight persons per household. Here livelihood activities in the community are predominantly small-scale farming, but given the arid conditions of the area and emerging threats of climate change, the village became a prime candidate for piloting the SADC / CCARDESA COVID-19 Response project.

In fact, the project is being implemented by Grow a Tree Foundation (GTF), a partner of the Center for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA), with funding from the European Union (EU) through the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and technical support from Bembani Group.

Over three hectares of fruit trees (including papaya, moringa, lemon, orange, guava and avocado) and vegetables (such as tomato, cabbage, green paper, onion and pumpkin) have already been planted for the cause. The first crop of May 2021 has already been successfully sold in local markets, addressing the issues of hunger, income, and nutrition. This way, the economic emancipation of communities and the preservation of the environment are promoted at the same time through the green technology of the Climate Smart Agriculture approach.

Some banks took an interest in the project and contributed to its creation by taking charge of the construction of a fence to protect the cultivated area and guaranteeing insurance to the beneficiaries of the project. The project also receives support from the Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe to plant indigenous trees and this is motivating them to find specific indigenous trees which they plant at a demonstration plot on the site as a way of preserving indigenous trees.

The beneficiaries have been very much encouraged by the Government of Zimbabwe’s own climate smart agriculture project known as Pfumvudza project. The Pfumvudza concept is based on conservation agriculture principles and helps climate-proof agricultural production, in particular the food production sub-sector.

Mr Bartholomew Chataika, the project manager for CCARDESA, has recently visited the project on a monitoring and evaluation mission, and expressed satisfaction with the way the project is being run.

“The project is a true model of what people can learn and integrate about climate change. It is a clear demonstration that there was need and that people have the passion, especially after getting information that the European Union and Southern African Development Community (SADC) are coming through with assistance” he said. Thanks to this project this area, which before was dry and degraded due to lack of water, is now flourishing with a thriving horticulture crop and fruit trees.

This Climate Smart Technology project in Zimbabwe is an extension of the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA +) program which seeks to strengthen the capacity of SADC Member States to undertake regional and national adaptation and mitigation actions in response to the challenges caused by the effects of climate change. The escalation of the threat to livelihoods prompted the EU to contribute $180,000 through the GCCA+ project for “Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on food and nutrition security using the Climate Smart Technologies program” in Eswatini, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The project is being implemented by CCARDESA for a period of 18 months.

This pilot project will later be integrated in other parts of the country with similar climatic conditions, and with other product lines such as beekeeping, chicken farming and fish ponds. The project endeavors to create an entire production value chain in order to enhance activities that impact positively on food security and nutrition.

“The bees will help with pollination in the orchard thereby accelerating growth of fruit on the trees and the community will also harvest honey. The community will further benefit from processing small grain like groundnuts into peanut butter and processing pulp from Baobab”, said Mr. Brian Musuna, the Communications Director for GTF.


Cover image: Tatenda Mapigoti, Zimbabwe