THE government has committed its full support to the resilient African feed and fodder systems project (RAFFS Project), citing its importance in mitigating the negative effects of climate change, COVID-19, and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
The African Union-InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are collaborating on the project.
It will be launched in Harare tomorrow.
This emergency and short-term action, according to AU-IBAR, will contribute to understanding the effect of recent and on-going global crises, namely COVID-19, climate change shocks and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine (3cs) on the African feed and fodder systems.
Speaking during a training workshop for the national assessment team that will conduct the in-depth country assessment of the effect of the triple crises on the feed and fodder sector in Zimbabwe, Andrew Chamisa, a livestock research director in the Ministry of Agriculture said the government was in full support of the project.
“As government of Zimbabwe, we want to take this opportunity to say that we value the project as it is going to be empowering our women and possibly our youth,” Chamisa said in Harare on Monday.
“We are all aware that in Zimbabwe women constitute the majority of the population and we believe that once that group is empowered, we have empowered the nation. I also want to say that the government is ready to work with all of you in the implementation of this project and we want to see the project achieve its objectives and goals.
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“We also want to say one of our departments, the Department for Livestock Research, is key in producing fodders and feed for the livestock sector and the department is keen to work with this project especially in the generation of technologies and information on fodder and feed.”
He added: “We believe it's key that if we work together, we'll be able to produce technologies that are resilient to the adverse effects of climate change. We have been told that climate change is one of the three Cs that is very critical and feed is one of the major drivers of production.”
“If we are able to come up with technologies that are low cost and of high quality, we will be able to increase production and productivity by the majority of our farmers who happen to be women and youth.”
According to Chamisa, the department is prepared to help the project fulfill its objectives so that it can be expanded to the rest of the nation.
He stated that numerous negative consequences, like droughts and floods, were being brought about by climate change.
“It will be critical that we assess the project in conserving the fodder advances within our farming communities so that they will be able to have some reserves for current use and future use and as a department who are ready to do that.
“One critical thing that we are also keen to accept the project is to assist our women farmers treat feed and fodder production as a business so that over and above using them on their farms, they are also able to sell excess fodder to the farmer next door.
“In that way, they were able to generate income for their use. One critical thing that we are also keen to work with farmers is the evaluation of new grass species,” he said.
The project targets six core countries that include Uganda, Cameroon, Kenya, Somalia and Zimbabwe.
Feed constitutes 60 to 70% of the total cost of animal production and the crises have exposed the significant weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the African feed and fodder input and supply chains.
Addressing feed and fodder shortages in the short-term protects livelihoods and ensures business continuity and sustainable livelihoods.
The AU-IBAR said the multiplicity and increasing frequency and severity of shocks and their complex and interlocking effects demands an approach that will also strengthen resilience in feed and fodder systems.