Climate/Environment

USAID-TAKUNDA breathes life into arid Chivi District

RUTENDO CHIRUME

MASVINGO- The 2023-2024 season was declared a national disaster by President Mnangagwa, due to the El Nino induced drought and arid Chivi District was hit the hardest.

Fortunately for villagers in wards 24 and 28 in Chivi District they are singing from a different hymn as they have become food secure by growing  traditional and cash crops thanks to the Takunda Project initiated by Care and funded by USAID (USAID-TAKUNDA).

The USAID-Takunda project started in 2023 with three villages from ward 24 comprising 34 farmers focusing on growing sorghum while in ward 28 a total of 72 farmers concentrated on growing cash crops.

In ward 24 out of the 34 farmers, seven are expecting a bumper harvest of at least 15 bags of sorghum per household in ward 28, the Dumbuguru Garden in Busvumani Village which has 52 females and 20 males are running a flourishing horticulture garden of tomatoes, vegetables, green maize and more.

Speaking to Midweek Watch one of the beneficiaries Sibangani Dhidha Madhura said the project came in time when they had nothing planned for the season, due to incapacitation.

“We were invited to ward 21 with USAID and some Agronomist some time last year around October and were told that, the 2023 -2024 is likely to be a drought year and being in region 4, we were likely to receive the lowest rainfall, hence we were advised to go for small grains.

“With USAID-TAKUNDA we were put in groups and I was the head in my group though other people were adamant and persisted on growing maize.

 “After the training we planted through the Pfumvudza program with the help of Agronomists and people from the USDAID-TAKUNDA.

“They were helping with monitoring and everything and that has contributed to the bumper harvest.

“Today I am happy because I am food secure with enough food to feed my family.

“On this piece of land which is 0, 4 hectares, I am confident to say that I will harvest at least 15 bags of the K2 Rakodzi sorghum that I was advised to grow as a way to fight drought in the dry land,” said Madhura.

Dumbuguru garden secretary, Lethiwe Nkompilo revealed that USAID-TAKUNDA poured in USD$35 000 to kick start the project and their aim is to pay back that money back in less than five years.

Nkompilo who thanked the USAID-TAKUNDA for changing the lives of the community said it is their first round of harvest since the garden was established six months back and have made up to US$2 000 profit on tomatoes only.

“This project came at a time when as a community we were faced with drought. They initially came in June 2023 and discussed about this project and later came back in October that is when they spearheaded the project that has changed our lives in a way we would have never imagined,

“They fenced the place, put water tanks with 40 000 litters capacity supported by solar a system with 26 water tanks one being for the community placed outside the garden, now we even have safe water for use and drinking.

“We have grown enough green mealies for selling and for our own consumption, realising as much as $1 400 and sharing the money amongst ourselves,”.

“Drug abuse and cases of gender based violence in our community have gone down since this program started. We are grateful for this project and we want to embark on several other projects because it is opening up several opportunities for us,” she said.

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