AFRICA Grain and Seeds (AGS) this week launched an ambitious US$3 million project that will see it providing training and inputs to vulnerable rural communities in Zimbabwe then buying back their produce for resale in towns and international markets.
AGS vice president Zandile Matiwaza-Denga told journalists they wanted to increase resilience within poor and usually marginalised communities that have had to bare the full brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“What we have come up with a sustainable social and economic idea where we give communities training, inputs and then buy back products from them,” said Matiwaza-Denga.
“We are looking for the most vulnerable people, those who have been hardest hit by Covid-19 because what we have argued is that everyone seems to go to someone who already has got. Let us not look for people who already have farms, we need to build resilience in the country, the people have the land, we have ample sun and labour and they are looking for the opportunity. The only way to improve our economy is not to give money to people who already have but to people who want play a part but do not have an opportunity. We have agreements in place with international companies that want products that we will buy back. Our total investment is US$3 280 000 and one of our partners KamPay has already started an initiative targeting 50 000 farmers,” he said.
In partnership with KamPay, Humble Smiles, Grow a Tree Foundation, Goldstone, Hammersmith, 24 Solutions, Zympay and local warehousing company Windmill, AGS donated seedlings and seeds to schools in Matebeleland provinces and much recently to the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS).
Except the Presidential Inputs scheme, little to nothing has been invested in subsistence farming leaving them to beg for inputs, fertilisers and markets after a season of toiling.
Covid-19 compounded their hunger situation with the United Nations indicating more than half will face starvation this year until the end of 2022 without any interventions.
AGS and its partners will be installing solar powered boreholes, fencing gardens and launching a Grow a Tree Programme that will see them give five trees to pupils attending rural schools which they will have to nature.
Their target is to have planted 100 000 in the next 18 months.