UK based Philanthropist engage in self sustenance programmes in Zimbabwe
United Kingdom-based philanthropist, humanitarian and politician Barbara Nyagomo has been involved in poverty reduction projects where she has been training villagers equipping them with various skills for self-sustenance.
She has trained villagers in different communities in rural Zimbabwe in soap-making and mushroom farming among other projects.
Her agricultural consultant Phillimon Buruzi of Agri-Advisor Consulting said they have been training villagers to produce oyster mushrooms to improve their diet as well as averting hunger and poverty.
“The key advantages of growing mushrooms are that they are cheap to grow and they make use of organic waste which is plentiful at farms and plots,” he said.
“They also form a good way of nutrient cycling as they quicken the decomposition process which in a veiled way is a form of organic fertiliser processing…for those that have reduced capacity for inorganic options. Mushrooms need a very low external input, meaning cheap start-up for the poor. The only thing that really calls for money is the spawn which is not that pricey anyway.”
Mushrooms, Buruzi said, do not compete for land with other crops and can easily fit into disused building structures.
“Unlike tobacco, it is food that also gives good nutrition to the farmer and his family and can be done commercially or at family level as it is not so labour-intensive. Mushroom farming does not require copious quantities of water and can still be done in drought years with good results,” he said.
He, however, said for one to succeed in this business they needed some degree of technical training, strict hygienic standards, efficient transport, pre-arranged and definitive market links and co-ordination between various smallholder players in order to be able to bulk up their supplies so as to meet the requirements of lucrative buyers.
“As Agri-Advisor Consulting, we make sure that smallholder farmers are supplied with the five key success factors in order to succeed in this venture. In terms of poverty reduction the programme has great capacity to reduce poverty, but results are yet to come because we started training farmer groups just this March 2015,” he said.NewsDay