Market gardens change lives in Makoni

For Memory Chirinda of St Faith’s Mission near Rusape the year 2008 was the most difficult in her social and economic life.

Memory Chirinda - We want to thank the organization (Environment Africa) for this project. We are now able to feed on these vegetables.
Memory Chirinda – We want to thank the organization (Environment Africa) for this project. We are now able to feed on these vegetables.

Facing a combined loss of her husband through death and grinding poverty visible during the hyper-inflationary era, Chirinda could see her world closing in around her. But thanks to a timely intervention by a Non-Governmental Organization, Zimbabwe Environmental Action (ZEA), Chirinda and six others were lucky to get support to start a commercial vegetable garden.

“I was left alone to fend for the family, which was a tall order for me,” she said. “But with ZEA’s help, we were able to make ends meet.”

ZEA’s projects, covering Headlands, Inyati and Mayo areas, involved groups of vulnerable women through market gardening.

“We are now able to feed on these vegetables. This has also turned to be our income generating project where we are getting some income to sustain ourselves. I have to admit that our lives have been transformed,” said Chirinda the leader of the six-member group that is growing vegetables.

“We are there to work with other members of these societies,” said Johannes Mupeta, the ZEA field officer for Makoni district said. “In a small way, we can help the people to eradicate extreme poverty through environmental sustainability.”

ZEA’s mission targets poverty alleviation as a primary goal. “Under the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger we do nutritional gardening projects,” said Mupeta. The organisation supports women with seed and technical support such as education, vegetable preservation and marketing.

“We are also into poultry production. The programme has improved the standard of living of many people,” said Mupeta, an observation confirmed by George Changadzo, a beneficiary.

“We are selling chickens to various organizations in the district and beyond,” said Changadzo. In addition, ZEA is supporting the farmers to plant tree nurseries and Jatropha plantations. The Jatropha plant is used in making soap, the farmers have said they found to be as good for use as the other products on the market. The income from these projects was changing the people’s lives in a significant way, he said.

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