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Major boost for Zimbabwe's sustainable agricultural development and food security efforts

Source: UN Food and Agriculture Organisation - Mon, 23 Dec 2013 03:00 PM
Author: UN FAO
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Zimbabwean farm worker Tendai Zivengwa carries raw tobacco at Mupfudze Farm in Featherston, about 150km south of Harare, Feb. 12, 2013. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
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Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

20 December 2013, Harare/Rome -The United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) and FAO have agreed on a four-year initiative to support Zimbabwe's efforts to address the root causes of poverty and food insecurity, and build resilience against climate change.

The innovative new programme will enable poor vulnerable farming households to improve food security, nutrition and income while strengthening their long-term resilience. DFID is providing a $48 million (GBP 30 million) package of funding for an FAO-managed programme to increase sustainability of agriculture, contribute to rural employment and improve nutrition - from childhood to maturity - in Zimbabwe.

The programme will reduce poverty in many parts of the country by increasing incomes of poor farming households through climate-smart farming practices that will raise agricultural productivity, along with initiatives that will improve farmer access to markets. FAO will be responsible for the overall management of the programme, including coordination of activities, technical quality and reporting on results. The programme will seek to help nearly 300 000 people in selected districts.

What makes this arrangement unique is the type of collaboration with the resource partner, in which FAO manages a programme, sharing implementation with a great number of partners. The large amount of resources put at FAO's disposal underlines the trust and confidence that DFID has in FAO's ability to deliver," said Daniel Gustafson, FAO Deputy Director-General for Operations.

More than 70 percent of Zimbabweans depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihoods, but they face a wide range of challenges, including low productivity; limited market integration; low soil fertility in some regions; the impact of climate change; limited irrigation systems; a lack of smallholder-oriented credit systems; and weak agricultural training and services.

The Livelihoods and Food Security Programme will focus on poverty reduction, but also on addressing specific constraints that smallholder farmers, particularly women, face in boosting agricultural productivity and gaining full access to market systems. It will aim, among other things, at:

- boosting short-term employment opportunities through safety-net programmes that will help women and men improve nutrition and invest in their farms;

- improving irrigation infrastructure; linking smallholder farmers with markets;

- providing enabling environments through policy support and encouraging public and private investments;

- and, increasing agricultural production and productivity of nutritious foods.

Making farmers resilient against climate change is one of the objectives of the programme. To strengthen food production mechanisms, it will focus on promoting appropriate climate-smart technologies and farming systems, such as greater crop diversity, improved storage, processing and preservation, crop rotations, conservation agriculture and irrigation.

Resilient livestock production approaches will be promoted, covering improved feeding strategies, fodder crop production, animal husbandry and breeding practices.

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