The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Sunday News Reporter
THE Beef Enterprise Strengthening and Transformation (BEST) project has increased women and youth participation by 30 percent representation in leadership roles, in a bid to groom them into cattle marketing groups.
BEST is a European Union funded project under the Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP), and is being implemented in 5 provinces of Zimbabwe: Manicaland, Masvingo, Mashonaland Central, Midlands and Matabeleland North.
In its recent newsletter Issue 2, the project said women and youth participation has been increased through representation and they have been working together with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development to identify them.
“In an effort to increase women and youth participation, BEST project has intentionally targeted these groups by having a minimum of 30 percent representation in leadership roles such as lead farmers and Cattle Business Centre (CBC) Management Committees.
Furthermore, the project is working closely with Women Affairs and Youth Government departments to identify existing women and youths farming groups to groom them into cattle marketing groups,” read the newsletter.
The newsletter added that during the 2019/2020 agricultural season the project targeted women and youths to grow fodder crops such as velvet beans, sun hemp and lab-lab among others, through establishment of fodder demonstration sites. A total of 101 lead farmers successfully established fodder demonstration sites during the season; 69 males, 28 females and youths.
BEST project also noted that women and youth contribute greatly to livestock farming labour but face numerous challenges.
“Women and youth in Zimbabwe constitute more than 50 percent and 60 percent respectively of the national population, and contribute 86 percent of livestock farming labour. Despite this, they operate smaller farms, keep fewer livestock, earn less from the livestock they own, have weaker property rights and tenure security, have reduced incentives to invest in their land and are poorly represented in leadership structures” read part of the newsletter.
In addition, the BEST project is making great strides in Information Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D). Through ICT4D the project will target youths as champions to roll out the Kurima Mari Beef App.
“Youth lead farmers will pioneer digital learning through using podcasts and other learning videos at CBCs. The project is partnering with Nurture Education Program Trust to digitalize the Stockman Academy curriculum. This move will provide a virtual learning platform to mitigate restrictions imposed under COVID-19,” read the newsletter.
The BEST project seeks to create a robust, competitive beef value chain that promotes enhanced trade, employment creation, food security, and inclusive green economic growth by 2023 and is targeting 24,900 small to medium scale beef cattle producers.
World Vision (WV) in collaboration with Welthungerhilfe (WHH), Sustainable Agriculture Technology (SAT) and Nurture Education Program Trust (Nurture), are the implementing partners in collaboration with Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (LMAC) and Zimbabwe Agriculture Development Trust (ZADT)