German Project, HELP boosts food production in Zimbabwe
A project being run by the German non-governmental organization HELP from Germany, to boost food security for rural households in Zimbabwe, is bearing fruit with farmers who were struggling to feed their families now enjoying improved livelihoods with proceeds from their surplus harvest.
Enlarge image HELP Project (© GIC Africa) Under the “Food Security and Market Support” project started by HELP from Germany in the northern Muzarabani district, farmers grow sorghum and groundnuts for consumption and sale and super hemp to fix nitrogen and feed livestock.
“This is a project of major importance which will lead to the production of up to 16,000 tonnes of the cereal crop annually in the district and this is quite a lot. Since the launch of the project food security and nutritional standards have greatly improved,” Peter Filius the country head for HELP from Germany told GIC on March 20. Filius said the farmers were expected to harvest at least two tonnes of sorghum per hectare in the first season with projections of higher yields in subsequent years.
HELP from Germany launched its food assistance project in Muzarabani in 2008 giving seed and fertilizer to hundreds of villagers and introduced the conservative agriculture project last year which is expected to run until 2019. The project later included training in conservation farming with 3,000 farmers receiving training and 600 lead farmers awarded with seed fertilizer and equipment for horticultural production. The charge d’affaires at the German Embassy in Harare Frank Maier said the German Foreign Office allocated nearly 930,000 US dollars for the project.
“The aim of this project is to enable 3,000 households to achieve sustainable and year-round food security through conservation farming and to train agricultural training personnel to strengthen local partner organisations and to establish solid marketing structures for field crops and vegetables,” Maier said.
Enlarge image Women during harvest (© picture-alliance/dpa) “This comes at a time where Zimbabwe also faces major challenges with regard to economic decline and a serious liquidity crisis. Germany, alongside our European and western partners, is happy to support Zimbabwe in these challenging times. There have been times in our German history where we needed and received support. We have not forgotten this. We know that in an interdependent world we are all affected in one way or the other by global challenges such as terrorism, poverty and climate change. We need co-operation and solidarity to provide solutions to these challenges,” continued Maier.
Project co-ordinator Tendai Nduku said since the start of HELP’s food assistance programme, the average sorghum yield rose went up from one tonne per hectare to four tonnes per hectare. “They were also taught methods of processing and value addition of vegetables before selling them,” Nduku said.
Zimbabwe’s rural dwellers have been the hardest hit by the country’s more than decade-long economic slowdown. In some cases villagers skip meals in order to preserve scarce food and the majority of them have been relying on food aid donated by international donor agencies.