Restoring Livelihoods and Strengthening Value Chains in Zimbabwe
The REVALUE program worked with smallholder groundnut and bean farmers in Zimbabwe to increase their incomes. Farm production in recent years had fallen dramatically in Zimbabwe, and many farming families were struggling as a result. In October 2009, IRD began implementing the USAID-funded Restoring Livelihoods – Strengthening Value Chains (REVALUE) program in Manicaland province in eastern Zimbabwe. IRD's partners on the project included Africa University, Cornell University, I-Train and Evaluate Center (i-TEC), and 10 Zimbabwean private sector partners. Using a voucher system, IRD worked with REDAN ProFoods, a national agro-dealer company, to revive the once vast network of agro-dealers and increase the access of vulnerable but viable farmers to inputs such as seeds, fertilizer, and tools. Local agro-dealers distributed the inputs to farmers in exchange for the vouchers. The targeted farmers were selected with the participation of local leaders and government AGRITEX extension workers, based on a clear set of criteria. During the 2009–10 growing season, 2,250 farmers redeemed vouchers; as a result, an estimated 1,000 metric tons of unshelled groundnuts were harvested, and average production per farmer was 2.7 times higher than during the previous growing season.
IRD mobilized additional community extension workers, trained by Cornell University and Africa University, to provide technical support to farmers – complementing the AGRITEX extension workers. Local agro-dealers learned to create linkages not only to agricultural input companies but also to the processing and commercialization companies who were interested in buying groundnuts and beans from REVALUE-supported farmers. After the program’s first harvest season, IRD trained nascent farmers’ associations to work directly with buyers and gain better prices for their members’ produce.
Over the 18-month life of the program, REVALUE increased the incomes of over 50,000 people.