ZIMBABWE FARMERS UNION BACKGROUND SUMMARY
Zimbabwe farmer’s union (ZFU) is the leading farmer’s union body in Zimbabwe with a mission to promote and advance farmers’ interest welfare through representation, networking, information dissemination, capacity building, formation of commercially viable enterprises, gender mainstreaming and mobilizing of resources and members. The Zimbabwe farmers Union was born on 19 August 1991, following the merger of Zimbabwe National Farmers Union and the National Farmers’ Association of Zimbabwe. The merge has made ZFU the single largest national farmer representative organisation of more than 90% of the farmers in the country. Membership is conferred by subscription upon payment of fees as prescribed and is renewed annually.
The Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union has a main wing structure for farmers of all age groups. However, there has been a deliberate thrust to involve youths and now the youth have their own structure from ward to national level. This has largely been driven by the realization of the importance of youth. The youths are the key drivers of development in Africa and are potential actors in achieving a prosperous, diverse development in Africa. Zimbabwe youths constitute more than 50% of the population, therefore there is need to promote participation and involvement of youths throughout the agriculture value chain.
The Youth Development Program in ZFU works with a team of three in the Headquarters of ZFU. Directly working with the coordinator on strategic orientation and thematic focus areas, is the elected leadership, national, provincial and district levels. The youth Coordinator as the central point for all Youth related work and project within the union is supported by two Youth officers in the Headquarters. To support the Youth Development Program, all departments in ZFU contribute with their respective work towards the goal of building the empowering and inspiring youth farmers through innovative approaches. Zimbabwe Farmers Union is currently implementing a Youth Development Program (YDP) in collaboration with several development partners. The organisation has a youth development program which is reflected in the various youth projects. The youth development program has the following thematic areas:
- Capacity Building – Empowering youth farmers through training and skills development.
- ICTs – Promoting the use of advanced information, communication and technology tools in the agricultural value chains to ease access to information and technology for improved productivity.
- Market Access- To improve product quality and consistency in production quantities to gain access to lucrative markets.
- Promoting participation- To encourage young farmers to increase their participation and engagement in economic and development activities.
- Strengthening young farmers club structures- Establishing, reviving and maintain a vibrant Young Farmers club in Zimbabwe.
In line with these strategic areas ZFU is implementing a number of projects, reflecting an attempt to address some of the areas.
ZFU Young Farmers Club empowerment and Entrepreneurship Project (Barclays funded from 2015-2016)
This project was premised on the Fit for Life project which was implemented from September 2013 to December 2015 with UNICEF funding. The project is now being implemented in 16 districts in the following provinces: Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Midlands and Matabeleland South with Barclays funding in 2016. The Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) is collaborating with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MOPSE) in implementing the project. Farming as a business (FAAB) and Financial Literacy (FL) courses are being offered to students through MOPSE qualified teachers. All qualified teachers in Mashonaland East, Central and Matabeleland South went through refresher trainings to be able to train youths. The training took place at MOPSE schools after hours. On completion of the farming as a business and financial literacy in two months, the youths are placed in young farmers’ clubs of 10-15 youths.
The Young Farmers Clubs receive micro grants to boost their projects. Projects range from small livestock (broilers, indigenous chickens, layers, rabbit, goats, guinea fowls, and piggery), Horticulture, and cereal production amongst others. ZFU distributed 144sqm greenhouses ‘materials to 11 project sites. Young Farmers Clubs are utilizing these greenhouses to generate income and 10 grants to 10 YFCs. In 2016 20 drip kits were also distributed to young farmers’ clubs as well as 100 pfumvudza packs.
UNDP “INNOVATION LAB” PROJECT
The aim of the Young Farmers’ innovation lab project is to innovatively develop and nurture entrepreneurship abilities of young farmers in Zimbabwe. The project equipped young farmers with agribusiness entrepreneurship and ICT Skills. Furthermore, the project successfully merged farming and ICTs which is witnessed by the deployment of ICT based solutions to strengthen farming operations. The marketing label developed by the lab is improving markets access, thus successfully penetrating structured markets like SPAR. The lab largely improved livelihoods of the youths. Through poultry young farmers generated profits averaging up to US$500 annually.
Value addition increased the income generated by young farmers. The project procured 10 dryers which can dry vegetables and fruits. Partners were UNDP, Harare Institute of Technology (HIT), Hypercube Hub, Watershed College, Africa University, University of Zimbabwe, Khangelani Studios, and InnovationBaraza. The partnership approach provided tangible benefits to the farmers ranging from financial literacy, entrepreneurship, value addition, ICTs amongst others. HIT provided innovation incubation during project implementation.
The innovation lab has been further developed to include the agritour bus in 2017. This project involves renovating an ordinary bus to be able to accommodate working space (desks and chairs), a kitchen, mobile internet and an advertising gadget (TV). The mobile bus will have a team of mobile innovators and youths in Nkayi, Gokwe South, Lupane and Goromonzi have an opportunity to interact with these and to request training on Farming as a business and Financial Literacy. Youths have an opportunity to view a successful project during the tour and to show their innovation through a competition for which youths get prize money to support their agriculture project.
ZIMBABWE YOUTH AGRIPRENUERSHIP SUMMIT
The goal of the summit which is held annually is to generate and connect ideas aimed at progressing agriculture in Zimbabwe with the next generation of young people. This is a step towards encouraging youths to take change and be responsible for their future and the community around them.
The key objectives of the summit are;
- To provide an avenue for agriculturally sustainable solutions.
- To create a platform for young people to actively engage in the agricultural sector.
- To bring young people together and to support them in developing their communities and the empowerment of their peers.
Success stories of young people in agriculture motivate participants to stay proactive and maintain a high degree of persistence to succeed in the sector. The summit serves to secure commitment from the government, development partners, private sectors players, civil society in supporting youth driven agriprenuership, employment and food security. Youths have an opportunity to interact with agro players who can support their agribusinesses.
FARMER –LED SCALING UP OF CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE.
Zimbabwe farmers’ union is also implementing the Farmer led up scaling of Conversation Agriculture in 6 district of Zimbabwe which is funded by the Southern Africa Confederation of Agriculture Union (SACAU). The program seeks to train rural young people and youths in primary and secondary schools on practical agricultural skills as a means of empowering them to develop fundamental principles of agriculture. This is based on the concept “catch them young”.
The overall goal is the promotion of the adoption of Conservation Agricultural skills (CA) by small holder farmers through farmer managed demonstration plots and CA clubs. 50 School based Young Farmers club (YFCs) with Demo Plots and 40 community Demo Plots were supported. Communities learn from the school demo plots. These plots utilize CA principles in the growing of maize and during the winter period school young farmers’ clubs and the communities around them implement horticulture projects. For both CA and horticulture there is a national competition which motivates youths to do their best.
INTERNATIONAL YOUTH FOUNDATION ZIMBABWE WORKS.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) will target 1,700 beneficiaries in Bubi, Lupane, Goromonzi and Umizingwane (425 beneficiaries in each) aged 20 to 35 years, with at least 65% being women. The project aims to support at least 100 young agro entrepreneurs who are into any one of the following: beekeeping, rabbitry, indigenous chickens, and agri-processing.
In addition, ZFU Will offer entrepreneurship training that includes: Farming as a business, developing business management, resource mobilization, product branding, and ICT based marketing. Beneficiaries will also go through financial literacy training and 850 beneficiaries will be linked to Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) for loans (65% women).
Beneficiaries will also be connected with private sector players such as SEEDCO, ZFU and Zimbabwe Bearing Company For micro- franchise opportunities. ZFU will provide monthly follow up monitoring and support with marketing and branding. The project also includes convening three learning workshops and production of a documentary to capture impact and best practices.
The project commenced on 1 November 2016 and will end on 31 October 2017.