Project To Promote Bean Production Launched In Zimbabwe
By Wallace Mawire
The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) has partnered with the government of Zimbabwe and other partners to promote bean production for food and nutrition security and incomes of smallholder farmers in the country.
Partners involved have today launched the five-year Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) project in Zimbabwe supporting bean programme.
According to Dr. Robin Buruchara, CIAT Africa Regional Director and Dr Rowland Chirwa, CIAT Coordinator/Breeder for the Southern Africa Bean Research Network, the project seeks to improve food security, nutrition, incomes, natural resource base and gender equity for better livelihoods of smallholder households in Zimbabwe.
“The greatest global challenge, including in Zimbabwe today, is how to ensure food security, nutrition and incomes of the rapidly growing human population in light of global climate change, without adversely affecting the natural resources base upon which production is dependent,” CIAT’s Dr Chirwa said.
According to CIAT, the project is being funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Project partners include the Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Agriculture Department of Research and Specialist Services (DRSS), FAO and CIAT-PABRA. The project begins in April 2015 to March 2019.
Other implementing collaborators in the project include Zimbabwe Super Seeds, the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC), National Tested Seeds, Seed-ridge, Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) and the Agricultural Extension Services department.
According to CIAT, Zimbabwe experienced a decline in the agriculture sector over the last few years as a result of poor technical capacity of the new emerging, medium and small-scale farmers and climate change related challenges.
CIAT says that in terms of bean production, Zimbabwe used to produce its own bean to supply the canning industry and is now currently importing from Ethiopia and Malawi.
“However, the emerging small and medium scale farmers are increasingly interested in bean crop to supply the growing demand. The project will build partnership across farmers and the private and public actors to promote bean production for food and nutrition security and incomes of smallholder farmers,” according to CIAT.
Other focus areas of the project outlined by CIAT include strengthening bean cropping systems that combine varieties and integrated crop management systems including conservation agriculture to bridge the yield gap. Strengthening the seed production and delivery systems engaging both the public and private sector partners and using various seed delivery options, including the small seed pack approach.
The project will also offer support capacity building of researchers, development partners, value chain actors and farmers to enhance relevant skills.
Expected outcomes include increased utilization of dry bean products for food security, increased utilization of improved bean based products for nutrition security in a gender equitable and sustainable manner and increased trade of nutritious bean products in a gender equitable and sustainable manner, according to the CIAT project coordinators.
Zimbabwe’s Agricultural Extensions Services (AGRITEX) Director Mr. Bernard Mache said at the launch that he hoped the project would improve food security for rural and urban populations in Zimbabwe.