A NON-GOVERNMENTAL organisation (NGO) has moved in to fight hunger in the drought-prone Gwanda district by engaging communities in food security and income generating projects.
LED (Liechtenstein) has helped the community to successfully produce small grains under conservation farming in rural Gwanda’s wards 18 and 24.
LED’s role in hunger alleviation was made known at a field day in Nhwali Ward 24 in Gwanda South on Tuesday.
The director of ProAfrica Development Trust Velenjani Nkomo said they had successfully engaged farmers in Gwanda district to venture into small grain production after receiving funding from LED. Nkomo said ProAfrica had managed to introduce conservation farming methods by training two groups with 25 members each through field workshops.
“We taught the farmers about the principles of what is expected and we did demonstrations in one of the fields,” he said. Nkomo said they also supplied seed to the farmers and 3kgs of sorghum seed which farmers would return after they are harvested for use by the next group of farmers.
“Whatever farmers will harvest, they will give back 3kgs to the next group, so that we continue to introduce conservation agriculture to local communities,” he said.
Nkomo said since Gwanda district was a drought-prone area with not enough rain for maize production, the conservation method of farming they are introducing to local communities would assure them of at least getting something by planting drought resistance crops. He added that conservation farming was an advantage over irrigation schemes since space was not limited and a whole ward could embark on conservation agriculture. He said a household could practice on its own compared to irrigation schemes.
“Small grain production and seed multiplication can target many people and even reach far more than concentrating on irrigation schemes of which it only benefits 57 people in one ward,” Nkomo said. He said when they first introduced conservation farming in the wards, most rural farmers were sceptical of its success and complained that it was too labour intensive.
“It was difficult to change the farmers’ mind set and make them adopt it since they were not sure about it.”
The Agritex extension worker at Nhwali, Levi Moyo, said the objective was to expose rural farmers to this type of farming so that they could adopt it to sustain themselves.
“We would like to thank NGOs like ProAfrica for the help they provided to farmers by teaching them other ways of farming like conservation farming. It is the first time for farmers to use this type of farming and some have had more yields as a result,” Moyo said.