Heifer's Work in Zimbabwe
State of the African FarmerThe State of the African Farmer report has been produced as a contribution to the great debate on agriculture and food security in Africa. It is a compilation of views and voices of farmers, practitioners, policymakers and academics across Africa and beyond, each speaking from the heart and sharing their experience.
Zimbabwe lies in Southern Africa and shares its borders with Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia. On average, agriculture makes up about 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Livestock alone contributes 12 percent to the GDP. The communal areas account for 42 percent of the land surface of Zimbabwe. Two thirds of this communal area lies in poor crop production potential areas (infertile soils and low and erratic annual rainfall).
The communal population of Zimbabwe experiences food deficits during part of the year and the challenge is to cover the food deficit gap through the use of appropriate interventions.
Communal areas derive their name from the fact that most resources are “Common Property." These resources include mainly water and grazing areas. Local authorities through traditional leaders administer the land. The grazing is communally managed but the arable land is administered individually. Commercial farmers have title to the land but communal farmers do not. The communal population experiences food deficits during part of the year and the challenge is to cover the food deficit gap through the use of appropriate interventions.
Despite the problems being experienced in the country, agriculture continues to play a pivotal role in the livelihood of rural communities. Current figures show that more than 70 percent of the population still relies on agriculture.
In 1981, Reverend Paul Sinn from Rutland, Massachusetts, visited the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe (UCCZ) and gave a talk about Heifer’s work. Reverend Menson Mpofu for UCCZ applied for Heifer International’s assistance. As a result, the Chikore Dairy Project became the first Heifer Project in Zimbabwe in 1984. In 1992, Heifer opened an official office at Ndlela Methodist Training Centre in Gweru.
To date, Heifer Zimbabwe has supported over 120 community projects and more than 6,000 households have directly benefited. Heifer Zimbabwe has supported agroecology initiatives such as protection of wetlands, gully reclamation and tree planting as well as enterprise development as a means for sustainable income generation.