By Jean Makamba
Women farmers in Mashonaland Central have called out the Canada Fund for Local Initiative (CFLI) to increase its funding and push Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) into all of the country’s farming districts so that they can implement their project called from Communal to Commercial famer (C to C).
The project is currently being implemented by DAPP in Mashonaland Central province’s Guruve district, north –west of the capital Harare where 29 female farmers are being assisted.
Under the project, DAPP with funding from CFLI is carrying out farming workshops with all of the 29 resettled communal female farmers at Siyalima Farm.
Through its agriculture extension officers, DAPP is giving the women farmers the most required farming information of this era, cognizant of climate change.
DAPP is encouraging these farmers to grow small grain crops mainly through conservation agriculture whereby they go for zero to minimum tillage and use manure instead of fertilizers to cut costs and preserve the natural richness of their soils.
Judith Homba, one of the farmers said the expansion of the project to all districts will go a long way in making sure that the country has enough food to feed its populace.
“We are very happy, more than the word; if l had another word to use l would have used it.
These people have done great for us, they have improved our farming methodologies that have resulted in improved yields that if obtained across the country Zimbabwe can reclaim its bread basket regional status if possible,” she said.
Stella Chatambudza (60) who is also amongst those under the programme said with the knowledge and teachings she has usurped from DAPP agriculture extension officers under the programme so far her life has positively changed.
“They taught me to grow small grains and horticulture products, which l was never interested with before.
I always thought that tobacco and maize growing was farming; now l am growing butternuts, tomatoes, groundnuts and small grains crops. I am managing to sell them whilst my tobacco and maize crop is still in the field and that money l am getting from those sells is helping me to get more fertilizers to improve my tobacco and maize crop quality and yield,” she said.
Homba pleaded with CFLI to expand the project into other provinces.
She said besides the improved yields she is now getting, the fund also helped her to understand farming and that it is a business.
“ Now l know that l have to keep records of all transactions that l make, l can also now plan and stand on my own with little support from my husband,” she said.
In November last year, CFLI also injected more than US$22 491 to DAPP for a six months training project for these 29 female farmers.
For the six months, since November until April this year, DAPP will be carrying out training workshops with these farmers on best farming practices and also their rights.
Christopher Mangwende a DAPP agriculture extension officer working with the ladies said they are also advocating for the women farmers’ rights.
He said the project besides strengthening women farmers farming capacities, it also seeks to empower them so that they can move on to become commercial farmers and be able to support themselves and families without nagging their husbands.
The Communal to Commercial farmer project is running for five years until 2025.