By Malcolm Meja
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural settlement Ringston Chitsiko, in Collaboration with the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), within the framework of the African Development Bank (AfDB), launched the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT).
The multi-national project titled “Promoting High Iron Beans in Zimbabwe” with focus on High Iron Bean value chain in the capital. The DR&SS under the Min. of Lands and Agriculture will be the leading institution.
The bean compact project is being implemented in 8 African countries namely Zimbabwe, Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya.
In Zimbabwe, the Project aims to reach 200 000 households with High Iron Beans (HIB) resulting in increased bean production area, business opportunities, income generation as well as enhanced nutrition and food security.
Speaking at the launch Permanent secretary Chitsiko said that the objectives of the TAAT project are in line with the national policy of addressing food and nutrition security.
He said that dry beans have a high nutritive value, and are one of the inexpensive sources of micro nutrients and are preferred grain legumes in Zimbabwe.
“The project is in line with our national policy of addressing food and nutrition security. Dry beans have a high nutritive value, and are one the inexpensive sources of micro nutrients. Dry beans are one of the preferred grains in Zimbabwe due to their ability to enrich the soil…
Beans are a source of iron and zinc two of the most common deficiencies in Zimbabwe. Therefore, beans with high iron and zinc content will aid in combating micro nutrient malnutrition among poor households using food based strategies.” Said Chitsiko
The project comes at a time when Zimbabwe has been failing to meet the National demand for bean production of over 90 000t, the current national bean production is hovering around 26 000t, less than a third of the demand.
“The deficit could be explained by the gap between research yields of 3t/ha and the national average yields of 0.7t/ha. Other factors such as abiotic, biotic and temporal and socio-economic constraints affect beans production…
“Therefore, the TAAT project plays a key role as in in line with National Food Fortification Strategy launched by the government in 2015, in a bid to reduce the prevalence malnutrition” added Chitsiko
TAAT addresses one of the AFDB’s high 5 priorities, as it falls under the “Feed Africa” which priority number 2 on the AfDB’s priority list. The high Iron been project will contribute immensely, to achieve that through raising agricultural productivity and move African production much higher on the value chain.
One of TAAT main objectives is to enhance bean production through offering technological solutions to small holder farmers, as well as create synergies between stakeholders in Zimbabwe.
More than 160 million Africans are food insecure and malnourished and Agriculture in Africa accounts for 50-70% employment but experiencing a deficit in production.
AfDB is the main financier of the project while the World Bank (WB) and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation (BMGF) have also made contribution.