BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO/ VANESSA GONYE
Zimbabwe has entered into a US$2 million agreement with Japan, targetted at smallholder agriculture as part of efforts to revive the sector.
The Zimbabwe Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment and Promotion (ZimSHEP) project was launched in Harare on Wednesday and is set to run for five years, equipping farmers with knowledge on horticulture and ways to grow their income through farming.
Japanese ambassador to Zimbabwe Toshiyuki Iwado said the project’s aim was to uphold market-oriented production by farmers and upholding teamwork in the promotion of agriculture.
“ZimSHEP is a unique technical co-operation scheme to be implemented by Japan International Co-operation Agency (Jica), a government-affiliated body with experts from Japan already in the country, working on the programme. Stakeholders need to work together to promote agriculture and to realise good results,” he said.
Iwado said the programme was targeting eight provinces, excluding Harare and Bulawayo.
“The project, which is now in 23 countries, is pursuing the main farming regions of Zimbabwe and so far, about 620 farmers have joined and more are expected to join to meet the 2 860 mark,” he said.
Speaking at the networking dinner for the launch, Jica senior advisor Aikawa Jiro said the project, which originated Kenya, was mainly interested in upholding the commercialisation of agriculture in African countries.
“Our aim is to assist communal farmers so that they advance from poverty. The scheme is simple and does not need high technology so farmers only need to know how to adapt to changes so as to increase productivity,” he said.
Principal agriculture extension specialist in horticulture, Hilda Manditsvara said the pilot project for the scheme started in 2014 with three sites and is expected to advance to all the eight provinces.
“We had three pilot sites, Mashonaland East and Central as well as Midlands and 14 officers were trained for the programme, while 168 members were drawn from Agritex to train the farmers,” she said.