Farming and involvement in agriculture are old family traditions for the Zimunhu brothers, Pride and Providence, who live in Ward 4 Hombe village, in Zvishavane.
The two brothers, aged 27 and 22, run a nutrition garden operation alongside their ageing father, who oversees the whole project.
Pride, the older of the two, says he is forever grateful to the day his homestead was chosen to be a model home under the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) program being implemented by the Nutrition Action Zimbabwe (NAZ) with support from UNICEF.
The ZRBF is a long-term development initiative with an overall objective of contributing to the increased capacity of communities to protect development gains in the face of recurrent shocks and stresses enabling them to contribute to the economic development of Zimbabwe.
It aims to improve the absorptive, adaptive and transformative capacities of at-risk communities
For the Zimunhu brothers, however, the story did not end with being chosen as advocates for the project, it actually began there.
Through the installation, maintenance and support of the organic food garden, the project has enabled the brothers to grow their own fresh, nutrient-rich and chemical-free food, initially for their family but has now gone commercial albeit on a low scale.
“Farming has always been something we were always accustomed to. It was our source of livelihood. Right now, we are getting help from agritex to undertake the project we have. We are also getting help from the Ministry of Health which is teaching us about a balanced diet hence we are growing crops needed for that.
“We have crops we are growing and we have five varieties in our garden. We have tomatoes, onions, beans, sweet potatoes and vegetables,” Pride, a proud manager of the project says.
The aim of them growing these crops is that they enhance nutrition in their home and community as a whole.
This was borne out of the need to build community food and nutrition resilience through integrated programming and the care group approach by NAZ.
However, Pride, who only went as far as form four in his academic studies, says the biggest impediment to achieving their goals of feeding the community lies in his lack of education on farming.
He says should he get more training and education in agriculture and farming, only the sky is the limit.
“Farming is something that I grew up with but I never got any formal training, in terms of education, I went as far as form four and the only knowledge on agriculture and farming that I know was taught at an ordinary level
“If I could get assistance to learn more about farming and agriculture, then I believe I could do more. What happens is that some of the basic knowledge is not enough, it is best to know more and then I will be able to do my farming on a large scale. I believe this is now my life hence I should do more to develop my life and projects,” Pride says.
The nutrition garden, Pride says, has helped community members who want to both learn new, developed skills and those looking to enhance their nutritional diet.
Although for now, the project is on a small piece of land, the goal for the brothers is to get a bigger space and be able to provide employment to youths within the community, who are already looking up to the Zimunhu brothers for inspiration.
“My age mates are getting inspired by the progress we are making here. If we look at the youths, they need money and we know how difficult it is to get employment, this program has become a source of inspiration to them, they are no longer waiting to be employed, they are creating their own employment.
“It is encouraging that as a youth advocate under the program, I’m able to inspire someone, it makes me want to keep on working harder and be an example to my community,” Pride adds.
His younger brother, Providence, is of the view that for such projects to grow, there is a need for a hands-on approach and more support from willing partners.
“We have been getting this much-needed support from NAZ which is very welcome. However, we really need additional support in form of machinery which will cut down on humans and increase productivity, we spend so much in the garden and it is time-consuming.
“Everything here is done manually, and it is exhausting. We end up not maximizing our potential as we take up much time maintaining the plants,” Providence says.
But how has life changed for the boys, who lost their mother in 2019 and were left to fend for themselves and their father?
“Since we began this project, I can say life has turned out to be better than before. In terms of nutrition, we are seeing changes. You know as men, usually, we take these things for granted and we end up just eating whatever is there but this project has enlightened me to know what my body needs.
“Together with my sibling and father, we are now more aware of what we feed into our bodies. We constantly ensure that we have a balanced diet, which keeps us strong. You know for one to be in the field, they have to be strong, so we are really grateful that we got the opportunity to be under this program,” the vivacious Pride says as he proudly shows off their produce.
According to NAZ officer, Nomsa Tawuya, the idea behind such projects is to build resilience and self-reliance in communities thereby ensuring that communities are leading healthy lifestyles but generating income in the process.
“The care group model approach has been layered upon the resilience programming that has been done. Most of our care group beneficiaries are from the ZRBF progress whereby the project has been promoting small grains programmed in Zvishavane” she says.
For the Zimunhu brothers, the idea is not only to make profits from the gardens but to also move on to other projects which will bring in more sustainable livelihoods
“Not only are we getting a high nutritious life from the garden, but we have also been able to save profits from the garden and enhanced our livestock. We bought goats recently, we also added chickens, and we are looking forward to adding more cattle and with a hint of good luck, we might be able to venture into livestock production,” Pride adds.