THE Feed the Future Livestock Development programme, a revolutionary and popular programme which increased the incomes and food security for 1 800 beef and 1 200 dairy households in the country, will officially end this week.
Officially launched in Harare amid pomp and fanfare on October 16, 2015, which was a World Food Day, the programme greatly increased incomes, created employment and enhanced the livelihoods of rural farmers through agricultural production.
A US$11 million five-year USAid-funded programme, Feed the Future boosted milk yields and improved livelihoods.
It was implemented in six districts in Manicaland, Midlands and Matabeleland South and was run by Fintrac.
Apart from providing technical assistance to farmers to better their animal husbandry practices, the programme created employment and reduced rural poverty.
In 2019, The Sunday Mail was part of a media tour to the projects sites in Chirumhanzu, Gokwe South, Umzingwane and Gweru and during the tour, it was revealed that the programme, had, to a greater extent, achieved the bulk of its intended goals.
The programme targeted smallholder dairy farmers in Natural Regions 3 and 4 and smallholder beef farmers in Natural Regions 4 and 5 and was a practical example of how smallholder beef and dairy farmers can commercialise by increasing production and productivity while reducing costs.
In the five years, the programme empowered more than 13 000 smallholder beef and dairy farmers to improve product quality and yields, increase incomes, and become more food secure.
In announcing the official close-out event, which will be held virtual due to the coronavirus outbreak, the organisers of the event highlighted some of the programme’s accomplishments chief among them increased incomes and making households food secure.
In a statement, the organisers said a number of speakers from Government, the implementing partner and from the beneficiaries will take part in the close-out event.
Part of the statement read: “In celebration of these milestone accomplishments, we are bringing together a diverse group of presenters from the Zimbabwean government, USAid, and implementing partner Fintrac. Our panellists will explain our approach to poverty reduction in Zimbabwe, share high-level results, and look ahead at the future of agricultural development in the country.”
In 2019 alone, the programme reached over 4 000 smallholder livestock farmers whose average annual household net income increased significantly.
According to the implementing partner, the average net income for beef producing households increased by 45 percent to US$986 a year, while the average net income for dairy producing households increased by 35 percent to US$2 589 a year.
These increased incomes have had a major impact on our beneficiaries, allowing them to provide for their families while improving household nutrition, and building overall resilience.