By Freeman Makopa
India has availed US$1 million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Zimbabwe as relief for affected populations to tackle climate shocks.
The money, which was availed through India-UN Development Partnership Fund, will be used to assist more than 5200 smallholder farmers in Chiredzi and Mangwe districts.
Working alongside partners, WFP Zimbabwe will provide expertise through its Smallholder Agricultural Market Support (SAMS) programme to strengthen the resilience and capacity of selected smallholder farmers.
United Nations office for South-South Cooperation director Adel Abdullatif said the funds will go a long way in ensuring social protection and resilience of smallholder farmers.
“Smallholders and family farmers are emblematic of the Global South, and of the challenge to ensure the Agenda 2030 benefits all, including the developing world’s rural and underprivileged communities,” Abdullatif said.
“Innovations to ensure the social protection and resilience of smallholder farmers abound, with India being a distinct leader developing new and context-appropriate practices to mitigate rural poverty.”
He added: “This project is focused on increasing small grains production and market access. It will provide a good opportunity for successful Southern practices to be tested and scaled, improving the lives of rural Zimbabweans.”
He said the investment in Zimbabwe relies heavily on agriculture – accounting for approximately 70% of the populations’ livelihood activity.
The donation comes at a critical time for the country which is struggling to cope with recurrent droughts and cyclones.
Ambassador of India to Zimbabwe, Vijay Khanduja said the 2030 Agenda adopted at the UN forms the basis for global action to achieve sustainable development.
“In 2017, the Government of India, in collaboration with UN Office of South-South Cooperation, set up an India-UN Development Partnership Fund, to help countries in the South to achieve their sustainable development goals. India and Zimbabwe have friendly relations and I wish this project of climate change mitigation to be an example of successful triangular cooperation,” he said.
WFP Zimbabwe country director and representative, Francesca Erdelmann said taking action in anticipation of climatic shocks is an effective way to deal with the root causes of hunger.
“This contribution will help WFP and partners on the ground to plan more effectively. Farmers will be trained on the advantages of growing drought-tolerant crops such as sorghum or millet, including techniques on how to reduce post-harvest losses. This contribution will go a long way in empowering farmers with the skills needed for sustainable climate-smart agriculture,” she said.