A four-year initiative, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), will enable poor vulnerable farming households to improve food security, nutrition and income while strengthening their long-term resilience, FAO said in a news release.
More than 70 per cent 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 FAO-managed programme will employ climate-smart farming practices that will raise agricultural productivity, along with initiatives that will improve farmer access to markets.
It will also aim to boost short-term employment opportunities through safety-net programmes that will help women and men improve nutrition and invest in their farms, improve irrigation infrastructure and link smallholder farmers with markets.
In addition, the initiative will strive to provide enabling environments through policy support and to encourage public and private investments, while also aiming to increase agricultural production and productivity of nutritious foods.
Making farmers resilient against climate change is one of the objectives of the programme, which 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 also be promoted, covering improved feeding strategies, fodder crop production, animal husbandry and breeding practices.
The new initiative seeks to help nearly 300,000 people in selected districts of the country.
Food on sale at a market in Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo: IRIN