US donates $21 m to improve food security

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THE United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will donate $21.5 million over the next five years as it launches three new activities to reduce poverty and improve long-term food security through increased agricultural production, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene.
This was revealed by the local USAID director Stephanie Funk Friday. 
He said: “Zimbabwe’s agricultural potential is vast, and achieving that potential is essential to poverty reduction, food security, overall health, and long -term prosperity and growth for millions of Zimbabweans.”
Funk added that the initiatives are part of President Obama’s Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative focusing on livestock and crops and will cover a total of more than 70 000 rural households reaching out to 350 000 people in good agricultural practices.
“The livestock programme will work with 3000 beef and 2000 diary smallholder producers and the crops programme will target 50 000 households growing staples and pulses on dry land.
“It will also target 7500 households growing high-value crops on irrigation schemes in Mashonaland East and West, Manicaland, Midlands, Masvingo and Matabeleland North and South,” said Funk.
USAID, in partnership with Fintrac and Linkages for the economic Advancement for the disadvantaged, aims to commercialise smallholder farms by increasing production, increase farmer access to markets, finance, credit facilities and introduce new technologies and management practices.
Collectively, over the past five years, more than 140 000 participating farmers sold crops and livestock valued at more than $300 million and many farmers were linked to formal financial institutions, ensuring sustainable access to finance.
Community water, supply, sanitation, hygiene and natural resources management activity will be implemented by Development Aid from People to People which will provide more than 8000 households and 20 schools with sustainable access to clean water and safe drinking water sources as well as 937 households and 20 schools with improved sanitation facilities.
Development experts estimate that about 80 percent of illnesses in developing countries are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions.
Funk said more needs to be done to ensure women and youth’s equal access to land, credit and equal participation in leadership and decision making throughout society.Advertisement

“USAID has already achieved significant successes with previous programmes where average income per beneficiary farmer increased almost three-fold as a result of our assistance,” said Funk.