Optimising the use of natural resources on World Environment Day

Categories: Cause days, Project impact
02 June 2017

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.

An individual’s story:

Meet Macia Matsika-Chibuwe, a married mother of 6 and a resident of Chimanimani District, a very mountainous region of Eastern Zimbabwe.

Macia is a cluster leader of a group of baobab collectors, who has benefited from training delivered by HWA-Zimbabawe. She has been given:
• practical support to collect and sell baobab seeds
• lessons to enable her to develop an understanding of organic farming approaches
• business support, equipping her with entrepreneurial skills
• gender and social inclusion advice

From the income made from selling baobab fruit, Macia has been able to multiply her profits by investing in technologies to significantly improve her household welfare. Food insecurity in her household has now been eradicated.

Through the success of this project

  • 4,030 vulnerable households had their annual mean household income raised from US$30 to US$100 per month through training
  • dietary diversification has improved
  • beneficiary householders experiencing moderate and severe hunger have dropped from 23% to 13%
  • 6,820 farmers attended training on sustainable harvesting and processing to make the best use of natural plant species

To find out more about the work of HWA-Zimbabwe visit their website (link to charity’s website, opens in a new tab).