India supports climate resilient agriculture initiatives in Zimbabwe.
By Wallace Mawire
The Government of India has contributed almost USD one million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Zimbabwe to help affected populations tackle climate shocks.
The contribution, provided through the India-UN Development Partnership Fund, will be used to assist more than 5200 smallholder farmers in Chiredzi and Mangwe districts. Working alongside partners, WFP Zimbabwe will provide expertise through its Smallholder Agricultural Market Support (SAMS) programme, to strengthen the resilience and capacity of selected smallholder farmers. The project will promote the cultivation of drought-tolerant small grains and legumes – reducing the negative effects of recurring droughts in Zimbabwe.
India played a key role in promoting the adoption of 2023 as the year of millet by the United Nations. This funding highlights India’s growing contributions to the Global South on efforts towards strengthening resilience to climate change.
Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, Mr Adel Abdellatif, said the contribution will ensure the social protection and resilience of smallholder farmers.
“Smallholders and family farmers are emblematic of the Global South, and of the challenge to ensure the Agenda 2030 benefits all, including the developing world’s rural and underprivileged communities. Innovations to ensure the social protection and resilience of smallholder farmers abound, with India being a distinct leader developing new and context-appropriate practices to mitigate rural poverty,” he said.
“This project is focused on increasing small grains production and market access. It will provide a good opportunity for successful Southern practices to be tested and scaled, improving the lives of rural Zimbabweans,” Mr Abdellatif further added.
This is a sound investment in Zimbabwe which relies heavily on agriculture – accounting for approximately 70 percent of the populations’ livelihood activity. It is also critical timing for the country, struggling with consecutive years of drought, cyclones, and unpredictable weather patterns.
Ambassador of India to Zimbabwe, Mr. Vijay Khanduja also believes the 2030 Agenda adopted at the UN, forms the basis for global action to achieve sustainable development.
“In 2017, the Government of India, in collaboration with UN Office of South-South Cooperation, set up an India-UN Development Partnership Fund, to help countries in the South to achieve their sustainable development goals. India and Zimbabwe have friendly relations and I wish this project of climate change mitigation to be an example of successful triangular cooperation,” said Mr. Khanduja.
WFP will build on existing collaboration with partners to combine relevant expertise, alongside the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, and the Department of Agricultural Technical and Extension Services (Agritex). Partners will procure small grain seeds and fertilizers from in-country producers and deliver these inputs to selected smallholder farmers in identified districts – along with providing technical support and training to enhance production.
WFP Zimbabwe Country Director and Representative Francesca Erdelmann said taking action in anticipation of climatic shocks is an effective way to deal with the root causes of hunger.
“This contribution will help WFP and partners on the ground to plan more effectively. Farmers will be trained on the advantages of growing drought-tolerant crops such as sorghum or millet, including techniques on how to reduce post-harvest losses. This contribution will go a long way in empowering farmers with the skills needed for sustainable climate-smart agriculture,” she added.
Between 2020-2021, WFP and partners have supported 60,000 smallholder farmers – 70 percent being female-headed households, across 30 rural districts through small grain production activities in Zimbabwe.