A vegetable farming venture has transformed the lives of more than 200 elderly women and their families in Nembudziya, Gokwe district in Midlands and has addressed food and nutrition self-sufficiency at family level.
The project is also set to be the anchor in supplying local communities with food as envisaged under the Government’s National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
With the help of local agricultural extension workers, the women, some of whom are widows, draw water from Mbumbuze Dam in Zimbeva village, Ward 13 in Gokwe North to run a successful garden project in the arid district.
The women sell their produce in the local community and at the busy Nembudziya Growth Point which is a transit point for several travellers.
They have organised themselves into groups to work on a garden project where they plant leaf vegetables, carrots and onions among others.
This has seen the women managing to contain hunger through attainment of food and nutrition sufficiency consistent with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Working together with extension workers and in a bid to motivate them, the women have organised a competition where those with the best crops win prizes.
A prize giving event was held at weekend and The Herald toured the project where the women were showcasing their products.
Crops and Livestock extension supervisor, Ms Farisai Machona said the women were also involved in value addition through drying of leaf vegetables and tomatoes.
“The farmers are using the produce for family consumption. They also do value addition and they dry their leaf vegetables for use during the time when the green vegetables are not available.
“We also encourage them to dry their tomatoes and pound them into powder,” said Ms Machona.
“They do vegetable production from the end of March to late September, then in early October they venture into green mealies production.”
She said one of the challenges they were facing was the distance from the dam to the gardens given that most of them were elderly people.
Ms Machona said they were also exploring new markets given that their yields continued to grow.
One of the women, said there was need for solar piped water to mitigate the challenge of drawing water from the dam.
Addressing the women and villagers, Gokwe Nembudziya Member of Parliament, Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena pledged to install a borehole in the garden which would be solar powered.
“From next week, I will send technical people to site where the borehole should be. Drawing water from the dam, which is a bit far, will be a thing of the past,” said Cde Wadyajena.
He urged youths to emulate the women and implored people to prepare for the coming cotton. Cde Wadyajena assured them that Government would continue supporting them with inputs.