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€1m drought response programme unveiled

€1m drought response programme unveiled

Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter—
The Italian Agency for Development Co-operation yesterday unveiled €1 million funding for the El Nino drought response programme. The project, which is being implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development in Mberengwa, Zvishavane, Chivi and Mwenezi districts, will enable farmers to access high yielding drought-tolerant seed and stockfeeds at subsidised prices.

This is unlike other aid agencies that want to directly distribute aid to villagers.

The 4 000 smallholder farmers affected by drought are getting high yielding varieties such as cowpeas and sorghum seed, while 2 000 households will get subsidised survival stockfeed to save approximately 4 000 head of cattle from drought-related deaths.

The supplementary feed will be delivered to convenient locations for easy access by farmers.

Smallholder farmers are also provided with subsidised sorghum and cowpeas seed.

Sorghum, like other small grains, is drought-tolerant.

Pulses such as cowpeas are ideal for nutrition security at household level as well as helping improve soil fertility.

Launching the fund on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Dr Joseph Made in Harare yesterday, permanent secretary in the ministry Mr Ringson Chitsiko said the project would lay a firm foundation for effective recovery from the drought experienced last season.

“This timely intervention is welcome and will positively impact on the smallholder farmers in the four districts,” he said.

The Italian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Enrico De Agostini said the programme was part of a broader intervention by the Italian development assistance agency to assist drought-stricken families.

“The other two interventions are bilateral and include specific projects, which will be carried out by Italian NGO’s present in the country, for a total of approximately 1,7 million Euros,” he said.

FAO subregional co-ordinator for Southern Africa and Zimbabwe country representative, Mr David Phiri said the transferring the responsibility to local communities through the Agriculture Development Associations (ADAs) to distribute seed and stockfeed would allow them to assume ownership of the project and its outcomes.

“The provision of subsidised seeds and survival stockfeed provides a mechanism for weaning farmers off donor handouts and for ADAs to continue making stockfeed and seed available at the local level,” said Mr Phiri.

 

 

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