Come and get permits, Harare tells urban farmers Mr Innocent Ruwende

Sharon Shayanewako-Correspondent

FOLLOWING Government’s recent announcement that 500 000 urban households would benefit from its Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme, Harare City Council has challenged interested farmers to secure permits and do their activities legally.

In an interview on Friday, Harare City Council acting corporate communications manager Mr Innocent Ruwende urged farmers to approach council for permits and avoiding growing crops in illegal sites.

“Those who want to partake in agriculture should come and seek permission from us. Most urban dwellers who are doing agriculture are doing it illegally.

“There are a lot of wetlands in Harare and  most of the urban farmers are growing their crops near those wetlands, thus causing stream bank cultivation. If done incorrectly, urban farming can pollute water sources through agricultural chemicals,” he explained.

Mr Ruwende said it was important for farmers to be cleared to do farming to reduce conflict between them and the city council.

Sometimes farmers grow their crops on road ridges thereby affecting the visibility of motorists.

“Basically, we put notices on places where agriculture should not be done so that we do not come to a point where we have to slash crops,” added Mr Ruwende.

 He further observed that urban agriculture was capable of transforming urban dwellers’ way of life if it was done properly and sustainably.

“Urban agriculture enhances the incomes of urban communities and transforms their way of life if they do it properly and sustainably.”

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president Dr Shadreck Makombe said idea of urban farmers seeking permission from the city council before starting operations was a step in the right direction.

“Those local authorities who are encouraging urban farmers to approach them and seek permission to work on different pieces of land are doing the right thing. It is a move in the right direction  because given the situation at hand, no one can afford to ignore the existence of urban dwellers as farmers,” commented Dr Makombe.

He said all necessary measures should be taken to ensure no one does farming on unsanctioned spaces, which may end up being a cost to the local authority.

“We encourage the local authorities to continue in that direction because urban farmers are there this summer season and they are in big numbers because farming is part of their livelihood,” Dr Makombe added.

Chief director of Agriculture and Rural Development Advisory Services Professor Obert Jiri also observed that seeking permission from the city council was essential, as it ensured that residents adhered to laws.

“Urban farmers should adhere to the city council by-laws to minimise the risk of their

crops being slashed," he commented.

The recent Covid-19 pandemic has

accelerated food insecurity in urban centres as a result of movement restrictions and the closure of businesses, which made stable employment even less likely.

Due to rampant unemployment, urban food insecurity has grown thereby making urban agriculture the only economic activity that is essential for survival.

The Pfumvudza Input Scheme is targeting 500 000 farmers for the 2022/23 farming season.

President of Zimbabwe Integrated Commercial Farmers Union Mrs Maiwepi Jiti said the distribution of Presidential Inputs to urban farming was one of the Government initiatives to make sure that no one is left behind in terms of economic production.

“The Presidential Scheme will assist a number of urban families to improve their livelihoods and nutrition as well as their economic situation as the nation marches towards Vision 2030," said Mrs Jiti.

According to researchers, properly managed urban agriculture can be a virtual asset to any site. It can be an antidote tothe aspect of green cities. Urban agriculture is one of the techniques that has been employed to reduce the vulnerability, waste, and other problems facing cities.

The environmental health benefits of urban greening through urban farming include reduced temperatures, increased humidity and improved air quality

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