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Zimbabwe commits to protect its resources – Chronicle

The Chronicle

Lincoln Towindo recently in Maputo, Mozambique
ZIMBABWE is committed to the protection of its vast forestry resources, with Government implementing interventions geared to restore degraded forest areas and safeguard the integrity and biodiversity of woodlands, President Mnangagwa has said.

Addressing a high-level regional meeting on the protection of indigenous woodlands at the Joaquim Chissano International Conference Centre in Maputo, Mozambique, the President said there was need to scale up co-ordinated conservation and sustainable management of forests for posterity.

He said initiatives such as establishment of expansive fire protection systems and taxation of those responsible for exploiting forests for commercial purposes were being rolled out to engender and safeguard integrity of forest areas.

President Mnangagwa was attending the two-day High-Level Session of the Regional Conference on the Sustainable and Integrated Management of Miombo Forests, hosted by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi.

President Filipe Nyusi

The conference culminated in the adoption of the Maputo Declaration on the Sustainable Management and Conservation of Indigenous Woodlands, a transnational declaration by nine African countries to protect and conserve Miombo woodlands along the Zambezi Basin.

Miombo woodlands are tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrubland biomes located primarily in Central Africa.

They are classified as natural shock absorbers from the effects of climate change and critical absorbers of greenhouse gasses.

Addressing the conference, President Mnangagwa said he was pleased the forestry sector has gained prominence on the global biodiversity agenda over the last five years.

The development, he said, will enhance awareness and contribute towards management of forests and help halt deforestation and forest degradation.

“It is significant to note that most of Zimbabwe’s inland river systems have their origins and catchment areas in Miombo woodland areas,” he said.

“In this regard, we have recognised the importance of managing these biomes to enhance the rainwater catchment capacity of the forests.”

He added: “Meanwhile, my Government is acutely aware that a significant number of the Miombo woodlands are inhabited by farming communities while some are under protection, either as gazetted forests or wildlife parks or conservancies.”

President Mnangagwa said Miombo forests were under threat from an ever growing population increasing demand for land clearance for agriculture, mining and infrastructure development.

Miombo woodlands, he said, accounted for around 37 percent of Zimbabwe’s 23 million hectares of forest cover.

“Under my Government’s National Development Strategy, measures have been put in place to facilitate improved land use management,” he said.

“These include intensive agriculture production systems, participatory agro-forestry management practices and ecosystem restoration models to bring back degraded and deforested areas.

“Zimbabwe is in the process of coming up with an ambitious yet achievable target to restore degraded forest areas under the African Forest Landscape Restoration (AFR) 100 initiative, by year 2030.”

Protection of forested areas, said the President, was in the best interest of the country, which has lately suffered from the effects of rising global temperatures on account of the climate change phenomenon.

“Furthermore, Government has put in place common management practices to enhance the integrity and functionality of Miombo woodlands,” said the President.

“These include fire protection, application of indigenous knowledge system approaches and levying of those responsible for degrading forests for commercial benefits such as producers of flue-cured tobacco.”

He said the Paris Agreement Framework on Climate Change recognises the importance of sustainable management of forests as a critical intervention to forestall climate change.

“During COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow in November 2021, we reaffirmed our respective commitments to sustainable land use,” he added.

“Equally, the need to scale up the conservation, protection, sustainable management and restoration of forests together with other terrestrial ecosystems received prominence.

“Our meeting today builds on those important discussions, with emphasis on the biodiversity conservation of resources in our own region.”

Addressing the conference, President Nyusi said: “Miombo forests protect river basins, help prevent floods and absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis thereby reducing greenhouse emissions.

“These forests also reduce conflict between humans and wildlife and provide food for wildlife which no longer turn to human fields for food.”

He added: “Climate change does not respect borders; therefore, we need to work together and put national interest behind us.

“We need to act together and face one of the major threats to mankind as one.”

The event was attended by ministers responsible for environment drawn from African countries along the Zambezi Basin, climate change and conservation experts and civil society representatives.

The conference was held under the theme: “For Sustainable and Integrated Management of the Miombo in Building Resilience to Climate Change and Protection of the Great Zambezi.”

Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa returned home last night.

He was received at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Zanu-PF Vice-President and Second Secretary Kembo Mohadi, Government Ministers and senior civil servants.

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Contracted tobacco farmers urged to avoid double dipping – Bulawayo24 News

Senior Agronimist in Mashonaland Central province Lazarus Gatawa has urgerd contracted tobacco farmers  to only stick to one contract company if they are to sustain their farming business and realise full production potential. 

Double dipping is when a farmer collects farming inputs from multiple or more than one contracting company but for the same crop hectrage to be grown in a single farming season.

“Double dipping works against the objectivity of tobacco contract farming model and is toxic to the entire agriculture contracting value chain in Zimbabwe and to foreign investors,” Gatawa said 

“Some merchants will fail to fully recover their debt and product volumes from double dippers because a contracted farmer can only sell their tobacco to one company contract floor according to TIMB policies.”

Gatawa also added that  double dipping also fuels sidemarketing as those farmers will attempt to bypass and evade their obligations with the multiple contracting companies who  supported them with inputs.

“Double dipping will negatively affect the farmer by reducing their creditworthiness as they will not be able to access inputs credit from tobacco merchants in the coming seasons. Farmers with a history of double dipping  will be easily picked up by a mobile  application technology developed by Expert Decision Systems (XDS) through Agro Axess and tobacco companies will use this to deny inputs credit lines to such black listed farmers.”

Tobacco farmers are currently entering into contract agreements with companies of their choice during this period of tobacco production cycle and are being encouraged to choose and stick to one company. 

Contract farming is a key driver of quality tobacco production in the country and farmers are being motivated to embrace the model by entering into contract agreements with only one merchant. A flourishing tobacco contract farming framework is good for the country and top on the beneficiary profile are the farmers and the contracting companies.

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With Catholic backing, African communities press against land grabs by global ag firms – National Catholic Reporter

A delegation of communities from Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria, accompanied by local and Belgian nongovernmental organizations, protested outside the headquarters of SIAT Group in Brussels. (CIDSE/Arnaud Ghys)

A delegation of communities from Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria, accompanied by local and Belgian nongovernmental organizations, protested outside the headquarters of SIAT Group in Brussels. The oil palm company has been accused of land grabbing in Africa and violating the rights of local farmers and communities. (CIDSE/Arnaud Ghys)

Harare, Zimbabwe — For all his adult life, Joseph Amoh Ayisi cultivated cassava, cocoa and plantains in the Subensu area of Kwahu district in Ghana’s Eastern Region. 

The crops he grew are crucial for his survival and that of his community. Cassava is a major staple in West Africa; cocoa is a cash crop used in the manufacture of chocolate, while plantains, another cash crop, are in the same family of fruit as bananas.

Life was bearable for him, his family and others within his community, thanks to these farming activities that earned them an income. They complemented this with rearing of livestock, such as pigs, poultry and goats, all of which roamed around their land holdings.

In difficult times, the livestock would easily be sold for cash.

But Ayisi’s life and fortunes have taken a sharp turn for the worse in the past few months when he lost his land holdings to commercial agro-processing companies that are turning African communal lands into commercial crop production fields.

The companies grow palms for processing into edible oils or grow cocoa. In some cases, as in Zimbabwe, an agro-processing company, Dendairy, intends to grow fodder for dairy cattle ranching, with the milk processed into dairy products. These companies require large tracts of land for their operations and have been turning African communal lands into commercial crop production fields. Very often, this is drawing them into conflict with communities.

These companies are picking up leases and concessions under controversial land deals with African governments desperate for investment to spur development.

Two workers are pictured near sacks of cocoa beans standing next to a warehouse in 2020 in Atroni, Ghana. (CNS/Reuters/Ange Aboa)

Two workers are pictured near sacks of cocoa beans standing next to a warehouse in 2020 in Atroni, Ghana. (CNS/Reuters/Ange Aboa)

“We cultivated mostly oil palm, cocoa, cassava, plantain and also reared livestock such as pigs, goats and chickens for commercial purposes and our own consumption,” Ayisi said in an interview with EarthBeat. “But now with the presence of Ghana Oil Palm Development Company [GOPDC] we have lost all that and now we are residents of different communities around us.”

The SIAT Group, parent company to GOPDC, has agro-processing operations across western Africa. It is among large agro-processing companies that have been heavily criticized for displacing African communities in Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria for little to no compensation.

They are also accused of not properly consulting communities when setting up operations that include vast oil palm fields. The SIAT Group did not respond to emailed questions before publication.

Ayisi, who has now separated with his spouse “due to the hardships we are facing,” is not alone in this.

His misfortunes and plight are shared by many communal farmers and Indigenous groups across Africa, a continent where agriculture is a key economic mainstay for both economies and households.

In October, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar said that private sector land deals concluded for 2021 alone covered more than 62 million acres.

The African Catholic bishops criticized “the impunity of corporate and elite capture of African land and natural resources,” saying this new rush for African land was damaging “to Africa’s food systems, to our environment, our soils, lands and water, our biodiversity” and health.

“Land grabs push people off the land, fueling conflicts and provoking displacement,” the bishops added.

Just this June, a delegation of African communities that lost their land to SIAT Group demonstrated and handed over a petition to executives at the company’s Belgian headquarters.

According to its website, the company specializes in the “establishment and management of oil palm and rubber plantations and allied processing,” mostly in Africa.

The African delegation represented communities from Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria. Other communities impacted and displaced by other large agro-processing groups have similar and even bigger problems.

During their demonstration at the Belgian company’s headquarters, the delegation from western Africa sought to “denounce land grabbing” and its “negative impact” on local communities.

Rita Uwaka, forest and biodiversity program coordinator at Friends of the Earth Africa, was among the delegates that protested at SIAT Group’s Brussels office.

She told EarthBeat that in Nigeria alone local farming communities with over 20,000 people had been negatively impacted by relocations and displacements of African farmers from their land by big agro-companies.

“The Nigerian government is prioritizing private investment without taking into consideration the interests of communities impacted by the agro-processing companies when they displace farmers. These people depend on this land for their daily sustenance and these companies such as SIAT are disturbing the livelihoods of the communities,” she said.

A young person carries sugar cane on a farm in mid-November 2016 near Zaria, Nigeria. (CNS/Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

A young person carries sugar cane on a farm in mid-November 2016 near Zaria, Nigeria. (CNS/Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

CIDSE, the network of mainly European-based Catholic development organizations, has studied the trend of large-scale land acquisitions in Africa, finding that since 2000 upwards of 25 million hectares, or nearly 62 million acres, of land have been carried out across the continent. Catholic agencies are assisting with a study to determine the impact in Nigeria of the land takeovers and subsequent development of farmers by big agro-processing companies.

Uwaka said her organization is carrying out the research, which she said is supported by the U.K. bishops’ aid agency CAFOD, and is also working with Caritas Nigeria to share information “about what is happening on the ground in these communities in terms of the impact and what can be done.”

CIDSE and Caritas have previously supported a similar study into the impact of land-takeover by agro-processing companies in neighboring Ivory Coast, where it was found that the state that allocated land to a unit of SIAT “effectively denied customary land holders the right granted to them through the Ivorian law, which today suffers the multiple consequences” of land disputes.

Communities like Famienkro, Koffessou-Groumania and Timbo, all areas of Iffou in eastern Ivory Coast which are mostly made up of families practicing small-scale agriculture, say they have faced massive, negative consequences.

They charge that “the company did not consult with them nor collect their informed consent prior to the installation” of an agro-processing project in the area, according to the report.

In the Ivory Coast, 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) are at the center of a dispute between small-scale farming villages and a subsidiary of the Belgian-based agro-company SIAT Group. (CIDSE/Christophe Smets La Boîte)

In the Ivory Coast, 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) are at the center of a dispute between small-scale farming villages and a subsidiary of the Belgian-based agro-company SIAT Group. A June report by CISDE, a network of Catholic social justice organizations primarily in Europe, stated that the villagers have been stripped of their land, displaced from their homes and several people killed during protests against a rubber plantation. (CIDSE/Christophe Smets La Boîte)

Data from other researchers, such as the international small farmers non-profit GRAIN, have shown that more than 65 large-scale land deals for oil palm plantations in Africa were signed between 2000 and 2015, covering upwards of 4.7 million hectares (or 11.6 million acres).

The downside to this is that “multinational companies, in collaboration with local elites and development banks, had launched a full-scale attack against communities from Sierra Leone in West Africa to the DR Congo in Central Africa to take their lands for oil palm plantations,” a 2019 GRAIN report detailed.

In Zimbabwe, which displaced roughly 3,500 white commercial farmers in the early 2000s, about 12,000 Indigenous villagers from Chilonga in the country’s lowveld region are resisting President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government’s allocation of their land to Dendairy, a dairy processing company. The company intends to grow Lucerne grass to feed its dairy cows on the land, although the case, ruled against the communal villagers in lower courts, has now spilled into the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe.

As the court case has held the limelight, Livistone Chikutu, one of the affected villagers, said at a press conference in Harare this year: “It’s a lot of lies saying they did door-to-door consultation, yet we are the settlers and we did not see such a thing. There is no promise on the compensation, they just want to grab our land and run away.”

“We can’t let our land be taken in that way, we have seen it before and there was no compensation,” he said.

There is growing evidence of the wider impact of the displacement of African farming communities from their land to pave way for agro-processing companies.

A December 2021 study on the different aspects of rural income sources and assets from 255 displaced farmers and 266 non-displaced farmers in Adamitulu and Dugda districts of Ethiopia indicated “a significant reduction of income and assets among the displaced” farming households.

The study further found that the mean annual income of households displaced by large-scale agro-processing firms declined by 72%, or the equivalent of about $1,800 compared to incomes of non-displaced households.

Those displaced, such as Ayisi from Ghana, are often not consulted when governments decide to parcel away their land holdings to agro-processing companies for commercial farming activities.

In the few cases where communities are supposed to receive compensation for losing their land and for resettlement, the reparations are often below the value deriving from their land tenure activities.

“A small number of us were paid compensation for the destruction of property on the land but not for the land itself,” Ayisi said. “The compensation was not paid under any terms so [for] every one acre of land, 8,000 Ghana cedis [about $981] was paid, which is nothing compared to the value of the crops and the land we lost.”

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WATCH: LSU scores national first with plastic waste to fertiliser innovation – Chronicle

The Chronicle

Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
LUPANE State University (LSU) students have come up with an innovative way to turn plastic bottles into a top dressing fertiliser product called “Petilizer”, which they say could contribute towards sustainable agriculture across the country.

The innovative project is part of efforts by students to provide a solution for plastic waste management and enhancing agricultural business in Matabeleland, and more particularly Lupane District.

Lupane State University

Through the innovative breakthrough, the LSU students are also tackling the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as ‘No to Poverty’, ‘Zero Hunger’, ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’, ‘Climate Action’ and ‘Life on Land’.

According to the students, the process can turn 100kgs of PET plastic bottles into 330kgs of fertiliser, through smelting, adding worms and compost.

The students participated in the National Competition of ENACTUS Zimbabwe last week where they showcased the project and scooped the first prize, which came with a Z$400 000 package.

The LSU team at work on the waste plastic to fertiliser project

Boost Fellowship runs the competition under their ENACTUS programme, a platform for teams of college/university students to take entrepreneurial action for others while using business principles and innovation to further global development goals and creating a sustainable positive impact on people, planet and prosperity.

LSU took first place, Midlands State University second, University of Zimbabwe third and NUST fourth in the finals.

Mr Bukhosi Dumoluhle Mpofu, who is LSU faculty advisor, business clinic development manager and lecturer in the Human Capital Development Department also won the Faculty Advisor of the Year award at the same competition.

For their efforts, the LSU team will represent Zimbabwe in the World Cup in Puerto Rico from October 30 to November 3.

Mr Bukhosi Dumoluhle Mpofu

The vice president of the ENACTUS Zimbabwe Lupane, Ms Ayanda Jele said plastic waste has contributed to multiple deaths of cattle in Zimbabwe.

“Plastic waste on plants like sorghum and sudangrass adds a deadly component, cyanide, which builds up in plants that are used for cattle grazing and eventually causes prussic acid poisoning,” she said.

“Lupane District in Matabeleland, not only has been facing this problem but a global pandemic (Covid-19), and water shortages, which have left communities on their knees.”

Ms Jele said through these problems, they saw an opportunity to safeguard the region. After collecting the PET bottles, she said they began the processing stage, which involves, smelting, worms and compost.

“The plastic bottles are first smelted to change the structure and thereafter we weave them and make thin strips. We then added manure, which is rotten foodstuffs collected, mainly from the Lupane State University dining hall,” said Ms Jele.

LSU team holding their awards

“Then we add the Galleria Melonella worms. This worm is our cutting-edge discovery as it eats the plastic and eventually dies and leaves behind solid and liquid biomass, which can be used as a fertiliser or biogas. This can be further broken down into methane and carbon dioxide.”

Ms Jele said the whole process takes about two weeks from the time that they smelt the plastic bottles to the time that the fertiliser is ready.

She said they came up with the innovation due to the somewhat barren soils of the region that LSU is situated in and to fulfil SDG 2, of Zero Hunger.

Ms Ayanda Jele

“We come from a semi-arid region where rainfall is intermittent. We want to allow the crops to survive. Plastic waste has caused problems when it comes to cattle breeding as they die after eating plastics and plastics contaminate plants. And through the Petilizer we want to boost yields,” said Ms Jele.

SDG 2 seeks to ensure that by 2030 there is sustainable food production and implementation of resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, help maintain ecosystems, strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and progressively improve land and soil quality.

LSU team member

Ms Jele said they engaged the community to build a smelter where they dug a hole and smelt the plastic bottles.

“We dug a hole in the ground, made a bonfire, put buckets of water to harvest the smoke and we burnt the plastic on the bonfire. It’s a model that can be adopted even in our absence. When we go commercial, we are going to have a smelter,” said Ms Jele.

In a separate interview, Mr Mpofu said their samples are cheaper than the going price of fertiliser in the market.

“Our top dressing is about US$3 cheaper per 10kgs. Ours has 16 percent more nitrogen than normal top dressing and it is environmentally friendly as we aren’t using any chemicals in it. The packaging we intend to use is easily recyclable and biodegradable,” he said.

“So, with 100kgs of PET Bottles, we can produce 330kgs of fertiliser. The production price is US$4,50 and we have a 30 percent markup that takes it to US$5,85 per 10kg. Normally top dressing is US$35 to US$45 per 50kg bag and we are cheaper.”

Mr Mpofu said they were selling samples and are awaiting approval to go commercial.

“For now, what has happened is that we are still to register with the Standards Association of Zimbabwe and we are awaiting our MoUs with EMA and Agritex,” he said.

“The aim at the end of the day is to create employment and reduce hunger according to the different SDGs. As long as the community is involved and is benefitting when we go commercial, we aim to be able to employ the community.”

Mr Mpofu said when they go commercial the innovation will be handed to the community to run it.

He was in charge of bringing into fruition the innovation, which is the culmination of a collaboration between students studying various degrees such as marketing, accounting animal breeding and biotech, developmental studies, entrepreneurship and procurement and supply.

LSU team member

The students in marketing management are Letwina Amanda Hove, Bunake Ncube, Farai Mapuvire, Ashel Mangoro, Tawana Dube, Lindelwe Jojo Maphosa, Prince Sibanda, Herbert Dzwairo, Ashton Machokoto and Tendai Murombo.

Others are Ayanda Jele studying entrepreneurship, Bhekumuzi Nyathi – accounting and finance, Jessica Pullen – Masters in Animal Breeding and Biotech, Praise Lord Paradza – procurement and supply, Ornate Sisasenkosi Sibanda – economics and Nkosilamandla Kunene who is doing development studies.

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