THE Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) is carrying out activities that help communities and small holder farmers survive in the era of changing climate conditions dominated by high temperature and drought.
Its operations are largely confined to the arid regions of the country namely Nkayi, Umzingwane, Bubi, Chiredzi among a host of other districts.
ZRBF hopes through its interventions to promote value chain activities and financial services usage such as savings, credit and insurance.
According to ZRBF research technician Mthulisi Maya one way of improving yields among small holder farmers was through adopting technologies.
Nationally the yield per hectare for many crops remains below the potential yet embracing new technologies and seed varieties can lead to increased yields over a small area.
“We are trying to help farmers embrace technologies that save money, energy, resources but also improve yields and net returns from limited resources we double the yields”.
One way ZRBF have done this is through the walking tractor which is basically more efficient than the ox drawn way of planting.
“The walking tractor saves labor, time and can cover up to 20 hectares within a day; with this technology a farmer can apply fertilizer and plant at the same thereby killing so many birds with one stone. It also helps the farmer reduce production costs and increase their yields”.
ZRBF also encourages farmers to grow small grains to ensure food security and improve soil fertility and productivity.
Small grains such as sorghum and groundnuts guarantee high returns because they are drought tolerant.
Maya said through growing of the small grains communities have managed to improve their health and value-add the produce.
“Communities that now grow small grains like sorghum and pearl millet are now producing confectionary products for retail chains. They de-hull sorghum and pearl millet which is removing the outside cot and mill to produce after we seep it to produce flour from that we decide the concentrate of sorghum or millet we want.”
ZRBF also undertakes aflatoxin test on all grains it produces before they enter the market to ensure they do not fungal diseases which are cancer causing.
“The test is both qualitative and quantitative, when it is qualitative it dictates negativity and positive of aflatoxin when positive the crop should not go on to the market as it poses health hazard. When it is a quantitative it dictates in terms of numbers and reads up to 5 per PB and above 5 the crop is affected by aflatoxin”
ZRBF is pursing crop and livestock integration by growing the velvet bean which is a low cost production that improves livestock nutrition and soil fertility.