Bringing seeds of hope to dry areas in Zimbabwe

The problem: Profit losses due to crop failure and low yields.

The ENTERPRIZE consortia implementing the Livelihoods and Food Security Programme’s (LFSP) Agricultural Productivity and Nutrition (APN) component is providing farmers with commercial access to drought-tolerant mung bean seed in Guruve district.

Climate change including the effects of drought can cause annual crop losses of at least 10% according to a recent study on the effects of drought and heat waves.

Farmers in Guruve have to contend with very harsh conditions including drought-vulnerable, small scale and rain-fed farming systems in order to grow crops. Additionally, markets for their harvest is not always assured leaving few options to engage in farming as a business.

 The solution: High yielding and commercial mung bean seed

It took an understanding of these problems for the LFSP ENTERPRIZE consortia to introduce mung bean as a new crop in Guruve district. The introduction of mung bean presents important opportunities in terms of a new livelihood crop, a produce with higher commercial value than traditional cereal and cereal options and an assured market through Green Trading, an agricultural produce retailer.

Under ENTERPRIZE’s pilot project, certified mung bean is distributed to the farmer who have reported significant yields of up to 3 tonnes/hectare from an investment of US$154 towards inputs per hectare. The yield is then gathered through farmer groups who supply Green Trading with links to a Canadian market. Demo farmers are supported to purchase parent seed and receive technical assistance in best practices for seed production operations.

Venna Gahadza, from Ward 4 in Matsvitsi village explains her experiences as a lead mung bean farmer. She says, “I generally harvest between 15 to 20 sacks per half hectare and the contractual process with Green Trading is quite lengthy. We are currently 23 pilot farmers and our yield has been higher than we expected. Am sure many other farmers who were sceptic of the crop will be ready to join us as they are satisfied that the crop is high yielding and the market is assured.”

The potential: Cost effectiveness, impacts, and implications

Many farmers lack the capital to begin a successful mung bean farming venture. ENTERPRIZE is addressing this bottleneck by linking farmers to agri banking facilities such as Microking. Operating in farmers groups in terms of borrowing and farming reduces the overall risk of paying back loans to Microking.

There is a need for a strong local seed industry in Guruve district in order to bring competition and spread of the mung bean value chain. This can only be achieved from stronger local seed producers, and a more competitive seed market ultimately benefits the farmers of Zimbabwe.

The Partnership between Green Trading and the mung bean farmers means that the market and variety will now be consistently available to the farming community. Demand is increasing there is a new confidence among farmer to take up farming mung bean following a successful demo by the lead farmers. It still remains to be seen whether Green trading will continue to pay the farmers on time in order to ensure a strong functionality of the mung bean value chain in Guruve and other dry areas of Zimbabwe.

Key Facts: The LFSP, ENTERPRIZE, Green Trading, mung bean costs 

  • The Zimbabwe Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LFSP) is improving the food security and nutrition of smallholder farmers and rural communities in Zimbabwe. It aims to help 349,000 Zimbabweans by 2018. LFSP works in eight districts, which were selected based on poverty levels, food insecurity, the prevalence of stunting and the potential for market development. Districts where other donor-funded programmes related to livelihoods and food security are being implemented were excluded. LFSP is funded by the UK government.
  • ENTERPRIZE (Ensuring Nutrition, Transforming and Empowering Rural Farmers and Promoting Resilience in Zimbabwe) is a consortium led by World Vision that works with farmers to increase their access to technical support. ENTERPRIZE operates in Mt.Darwin and Guruve.
  • Mung bean is a wonder seed that has been propagated in Asia and other parts of the world because of not only its resilience to harsh climatic conditions but notably for its nutritional benefits which include combating heart disease, controlling diabetes and its anti-cancer effects.
  • Green Trade is a retailer company in Zimbabwe that promotes the grains value chain by offering farmers markets for their produce at a premium price by linking them to markets outside Africa.
  • Mung bean costs US$300 to US$530/tonne in Guruve depending on the grade.
  • Electronic payments are instantly made to the sellers using Text-a-cash (a nationwide mobile banking facility in Zimbabwe).

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