In a bid to improve the country’s agriculture sector, the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union and the European Union have launched a program that engages farmers and stakeholders in dialogue platforms to discuss issues that affect the industry.
The Inclusive Policy Dialogue for Social Development (IPDSD) is aimed at enhancing the participation of 20,000 farmers in policy and social development dialogue for food security and nutrition security.
It also encompasses improving the economic literacy of the targeted farmers.
The project will be implemented in the country’s three provinces: Manicaland, Midlands and Masvingo.
In Manicaland IPDSD will be effectuated in four districts: Mutare, Nyanga, Mutasa and Buhera.
In Masvingo the project will carry through in three districts: Masvingo, Mwenezi and Chivi.
Midlands also has three districts where IPDSD will be implemented: Gokwe South, Shurungwi and Kwekwe.
Each district will implement the program in ten wards giving a total of one hundred wards in the three provinces.
Inception workshops were held in the three provinces to introduce and enlighten farmers and stakeholders on what the program is all about.
IPDSD is a unique program in that it offers assistance to farmers in a different way, creating platforms for them to dialogue for social development.
Speaking at the Midlands Inception meeting, ZFU Executive Director Mr Paul Zakariya said,
“Empowerment is not giving out handouts but opening up people’s brains, educating people and in this project we are going to move along with stakeholders who will give us knowledge.
“We are looking at policies, some of them which hinder progress, our challenge is we have policies that we know nothing about,” he said.
In his presentation at the Manicaland Inception meeting, the ZFU Chief Economist Mr Prince Kuipa said,
“This program is about discussion, dialogue to solve our own problems because it was realized that there are no platforms for farmers to dialogue and resolve deterrent issues”.
IPDSD is also determined to make the voice of the farmer heard in policy making.
“… nothing for the farmer without the farmer,” said Mr Zakariya.
The Manicaland Provincial Administrator Mr Mbetsa also shared the same sentiments that farmers should not be excluded from making decisions that concern them.
“Farmers’ Unions are the voices of farmers and the real farmers’ voice must come from the farmers themselves.
“In my view, this is the most important task that a farmers’ union is expected to perform.
“I therefore applaud the Zimbabwe Farmers Union for engaging in a process that will connect the union with its real constituency,” he said.
The PA also assured his full support for this program.
“I would like to pledge my support and that of other government departments at provincial level to your Union’s project.
We are going to lend our full support to this project,” he said
ZFU president Mr A Nyathi, expressed the Union’s joy and gratitude for the stakeholder support for IPDSD as well as other projects.
“The project for which we are gathered here today emphasises stakeholder networking in order to harness all ideas for the good of the farmer.
“Zimbabwe Farmers Union has always worked well with government arms such as Local Government, Rural District Councils, Agritex, LPD, DLVS, and Non-Governmental Organisations, and Synergies are valuable for rural development.
“After everything has been said, Zimbabwe Farmers Union values the support the organisation has received from the European Union since 2009,” said Mr Nyathi.