Zimbabwe’s small-scale farmers have extremely limited options to produce high value agricultural crops and wild collected indigenous plants and to market them effectively either locally or internationally. Small-scale farmers, in particular, are not linked to export markets and have few possibilities to process their goods (except for those who process tobacco), as well as lacking the necessary skills to produce high value crops. They find themselves limited to producing and selling only staples, vegetables or cash crops, such as tobacco or cotton, with extremely fluctuating world market prices, and are therefore forced to sell their produce below production costs.
These farmers do not have adequate knowledge about sustainable agriculture and wild collection, as well as value-adding methods to reverse ongoing land degradation, which has led in turn to lower yields and a marked decrease in their food security. And the improper use of agro-chemicals has caused devastating soil erosion. Since the support infrastructure for rural agriculture has largely disappeared, the majority of small-scale producers in Zimbabwe are currently trapped in a vicious cycle of extreme poverty, with heavy reliance on unaffordable or unavailable inputs, unsustainable hikes in transportation costs, and volatile market prices.
For small-scale Zimbabwean farmers, the Trust’s promotion of high value crops and underutilized plant species for both domestic consumption and for marketing and sale has many benefits:
- These crops favor the poorest of the poor
- This form of agriculture benefits women
- Such crops complement conventional food crops
- Indigenous species are drought tolerant
- They bestow competitive advantages to local producers
- They increase family cash income and therefore food security
- They increase technical and management capacities of participating rural communities
- International certification guarantees fair partnership.