A NON-governmental organisation, Practical Action has launched a US$1,1 million project aimed at empowering smallholder farmers in Gwanda and Matobo Districts in Matabeleland South.
The project is being done with the support from the Isle of Man government.
The Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland.
Practical Action regional director for Southern Africa, Mr Kudzai Marovanidze, told stakeholders during a renewable energy empowerment workshop in Maphisa, Matobo District, that the support from the Isle of Man was meant to capacitate ordinary farmers especially women.
“The Isle of Man is moving to develop lives of women in Matobo and Gwanda with their $1 million project.
“This support from the Isle of Man will have a huge impact, directly and indirectly, on the lives of farmers,” he said.
The project will be implemented by Practical Action in partnership with Fambidzanai Permaculture Centre (FPC), which is also a non-governmental organisation.
The programme will be focused on improving access to solar energy for agricultural production and also supported by the Zimbabwean government.
Speaking at the same event FPC project officer, Mr Mbakisi Nyoni, said the project would run for two years and would directly benefit 4 950 people.
“With the full support of Government line ministries, the project is anticipated to last from August 2018 to July 2020 directly reaching 4 950 people and 70 percent of them being women,” he said.
Mr Nyoni said in order to give the farmers a sense of ownership they will contribute 10 percent towards hardware, which they will pay back during the two-year duration of the programme.
Mr Nyoni also said that the project has a yearly work plan so as to maximise on project sustainability.
“In the first year we will focus on capacity building on technical issues and infrastructure installations and initiate farming as a business.
“In the second year it is the consolidation phase, where we will be developing technical support especially of line ministries,” he added.
A survey conducted by Practical Action indicates that the national grid in Zimbabwe reaches 40 percent of the population, with most rural areas living in energy poverty and with minimal chance of accessing grid electricity in the next 15 years.