Mwenezi farmers applaud WFP’s small grains project

Small holder farmers in Mwenenzi have applauded World Food Programme’s  (WFP) small grains production project saying the project has helped them counter the risk of poor yields and hunger.

WFP in partnership with government and the United Nations  Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) launched the small grains production project in Mwenenzi to enhance the resilience and food security of highly vulnerable communities affected by climate shocks.

Speaking to 263chat at a field day event in Chidaba village, ward 7, one of the beneficiaries of the project Tendai Chinanga said the small grains production programme has made life easier for her as her yields have significantly improved.

“I have managed to secure enough harvest for my family until the next season,” she said adding that the small grains programme is ideal for areas like Mwenezi which have always experienced food deficits as a result of low rainfall patterns and the El Nino induced drought.

Chinanga who for the past 5 years stood the brunts of climate change narrated how WFP’s small grain project has transformed her life.

“I have managed to purchase goats for myself after selling part of my sorghum and millet produced under the small grains production project. She added that she has been able to pay school fees for her kids on time.

Shylet Sithole, admired the programme highlighting that it has helped many villagers to bolster their resilience capacity through the farming of drought tolerant small grains.

“The yields have improved as compared to all the other years. Small grains are suitable to our region given the rainfall patterns in our area. She vowed that she will always prefer small grains over traditional crops like maize citing the nutritional benefits which comes with small grains.

Mwenezi which is in natural region  five receives low, erratic and poorly distributed rainfall resulting in crop production for food and income being unreliable.

Denhere Jemtius, a Mwenezi based Agronomist in charge of horticulture production said the project which was introduced as a climate mitigation strategy is meant to promote sustainable small grain production using climate smart agricultural techniques.

Mr Denhere showcase some of the products of the small grains project

“We are trying to harvest moisture because Mwenezi is in natural region 5 which normally receives low rainfall, not exceeding 400mm. Despite the coming of El Nino, through the project, we managed to yield better results since we employed moisture harvesting through mulching,” said Denhere.

He added that during the implementation the project, they used demonstration plots  which compelled farmers to practice conservation agriculture using different techniques including the hand hoe basin and the reaper time system.

“We want to make sure that small grains continue to be the most beneficial crop in the district. Most of the framers managed to harvest more than 10 bags from their plots and under normal conditions we do not exceed one tonne per hector when we grow small grains through the convectional system,” said Denhere

WPF Zimbabwe Communications Officer, Sophia Robele said the project, which is set to benefit 550 households is aimed at building community resilience and help small holder farmers with grains which are drought tolerant.

Going forward, Ms Robele said that WFP wants farmers to feed themselves through climate smart agriculture .

According to the results of the Zimbabwe Vulnerable Assessment Committee’s  ( ZimVAC) 2015 Rural Livelihood Assessment, Mwenezi was one of the most food insecure districts with an estimated prevalence of 31% at the peak of 2015/2016 lean season.