Improved technologies bolster food production efficiency and incomes in rural Zimbabwe

Most rural people in Zimbabwe depend on crop–livestock farming, growing cereals and legumes, and raising goats and cattle. In recent years, overdependence on rain-fed irrigation, poor soil fertility and a lack of access to inputs, particularly animal feed, have hindered productivity. In addition, falling yields, cash constraints and inefficient links between smallholders and consumers have contributed to food deficits, limiting livelihood opportunities and forcing much of the population to rely upon food aid. But with growing food demand, the adoption of crop and livestock technologies and more efficient markets offer opportunities to enhance agricultural production, food security and resilience in rural Zimbabwe.

In 2012, research by a host of national and international partners, including the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), identified opportunities to introduce crop and livestock technologies and improved practices along six target value chains in six rural districts in the Zimbabwean provinces of Mashonaland East, Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North. Appropriate cereal and legume crop-and- livestock technologies were introduced to farmers and on-farm research generated empirical evidence to support the adoption of promising technologies and practices, including nitrogen fixing crops and improved feeding practices. . . .