On World Environment Day, we take a closer look at the work of a grant holder that is securing economic empowerment for thousands of households in Zimbabwe through the commercialisation of indigenous species.
In a country with over 6,000 plant species, less than 1% has typically been used commercially. This is where Hilfswerk Austria International-Zimbabwe, a UK Aid Direct grant holder, stepped in.
The UK Aid Direct funded project focuses on creating alternative income opportunities for smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe from natural species and high value crops.
Partnering with Bio-Innovation Zimbabwe and Organic Africa Pvt Ltd, the project optimises the use of natural resources that would usually go to waste, for example: Amaranth, Cassava, Resurrection Bush, Lippia Javanica, Moringa, Stevia, Ximenia, Mongongo, Bamboo, Bambara Nuts and Wild Melon.
At the beginning of the project, extensive GIS mapping was carried out to establish the distribution and density of all the plants.
Products were then developed, tested, and launched. They are now sold both locally and internationally at fairs and markets.
The farmers were trained in sustainable harvesting, storage and processing and were organically and fair trade certified.