Leverage On Irrigation To Boost Community Resilience, Buhera Farmers Urged
MUTARE– A visiting senior American diplomat has urged vulnerable rural communities to leverage on irrigation schemes to boost resilience against climate change induced droughts that have become common of late.
By Donald Nyarota
Thomas Hastings, Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy made these remarks while announcing a US$97 000 two-year grant to Deure Irrigation Cooperative Society Limited, which carters for 712 smallholder farmers in Buhera.
Hastings said the grant, facilitated by United States African Development Foundation (USADF), will enable local farmers to open new local and international markets and boost production by improving their capacity.
The grant funding will enable farmers to increase their capacity through practical trainings including business management, budgeting, market analysis and development of a business plan, said Thomas.
“It’s projects like this one that actually give me great hope for Zimbabwe, as it (the project) addresses the long-term problem (of food insecurity) by assisting communities improve their linkages to markets and build farming as a business.
“Over the long term, even if there comes another drought in a few years, communities will be more resilient and less in need of food assistance.”
Hastings is on an official tour of Zimbabwe after serving for three years as the Deputy Director for Southern African Affairs in the United States State Department.
He also urged the private sector to provide linkages to markets to enhance the sustainability of small holder projects to avert food insecurity.
“The private sector needs to be a partner in all this work to be sustainable, because these projects provide a long-term solution to communities like these to build new markets and a business approach to be more resilient and be in less need of food assistance.
“I have been in Zimbabwe only for a short time and I have seen a lot of positive things. I have seen the beauty of Zimbabwe, I have a lot of kindness from the Zimbabwean people but we also know that the country is going through a very difficult time right now.
“This kind of emergency situation demands a response and the United States government…gave an additional $45 million available to meet the emergency food security needs in Zimbabwe,” said Hastings.
USDAF country director Doreen Chimwara said the grant will address growth and profitability issues which had been exposed due to lack of access to appropriate inputs, working capital, business management and technical capacities.
“Our main stay is in agriculture, renewable energy and youth in business to ensure that vulnerable communities with a business model can access the funds as long as they are registered, so this funding is available to those that have livelihood projects
“We target community enterprises and business to provide growth and profitability issues, capacitation and provide funds directly to the beneficiaries to enable them to resolve emergent issues in their business,” said Chimwara.
The US support will enhance farmers to acquire skills needed to operate as a cooperative with full transparency and accountability through development of financial policy, human resources and operations policy.
Local farmers said the funding support is expected to increase tomato production from 1512 tons to 2208 tons per annum by 2021 as well as increase sugar beans production from 378 tons to 510 tons per annum.