As I write this, it is the beginning of the rainy season in Zimbabwe. We’re hoping to receive “good” rain, because for the last three years, there has been severe drought. Rural farmers haven’t even been able to grow enough food to feed themselves.
This is why the Planting for Progress project is so important.
The project is working with poor, rural communities, particularly women farmers, in two of the driest parts of Zimbabwe: Gwanda and Bulilima. With new skills and solar irrigation technologies, communities will be able to grow plenty of nutritious food to eat, plus extra to sell for an income.
The project launched at the end of 2019, with the last 12 months being the planning phase.
This has involved meetings with members of the rural district council, the government’s departments of agriculture and irrigation, and community leaders.
Together with hydrological surveyors, we have identified sites where there is good availability of underground water.
And we have begun the process of finding the company that will drill the boreholes that, together with solar powered pumps, will bring year-round crop irrigation to farmers.
“I cannot begin to describe how happy I feel. The expectation of getting a reliable water source is making me restless. Morale in the community is high and everyone is motivated. We want to make this desert area green through our hard work. We want to show our grandchildren what is possible.”
Ellina Ncube, a farmer from Gwanda
The coronavirus pandemic has created many challenges for the project.
Our top priority was to ensure the safety of our staff and the communities we are working with. We were grateful to the funder, UK government, who supported us in getting the personal protective equipment we needed.
We are also working to strengthen the communities’ response to coronavirus by ensuring they have the water points and hygiene practices they need to keep themselves safe.
We have adjusted some of the project stages, so that progress can still be made while movement of staff is restricted. As a result, we were able to make an early start on community training materials for the climate-resilient farming workshops we will run.
Thank you to everyone who supported the 2019 Planting for Progress UK Aid Match appeal, which made this work possible. We’ll keep you updated on this, and other global climate change adaptation projects, in future issues of Small World.
A clever combination of knowledge transfer, skills training, solar powered irrigation and improved seeds is helping farmers in Zimbabwe to double their food production and increase their income.View the Project