The Greening of a formerly defunct garden: Midas touch to mobilization

Ward 17, Chirambadare Village is the centre of attraction for Batanai Garden, formerly defunct, and comprising of eleven members, 8 women and 3 men. The group was mobilized in 2017 and is currently saving as little as a $1-00 a month whilst contributing towards buying inputs for their group project. The nutritious group garden was primarily obsolete, until such a time the Enterprise Development Facilitator was instructed to renew interest with the garden and group by the field officer. Starting as a journey into the unknown waters, the group members indicated gross absence of the core values of group strengthening spelt out in Module 1, Group Formation and Strengthening. Upon mobilization, the group members were taken through an in depth training about the benefits of belonging to a group enclosed within the organization’s model. History has it that the group garden used to produce for the local community beyond to Chivhu township, as well as boarding schools dotted around the district. Life has been restored within the garden and the group members are now proud owners of a greening garden.

Before the re-ignition of the relationship of the garden with the organization, the members used to plant maize on a season basis ordinarily divorcing the garden from its intended function. Being a recipient of the whole security fence from the Swedish Co-operative and Development and sporadically saving and lending within the Hand in Hand Zimbabwe Enterprise Development Model, it became an intricate interest for the district staff to resuscitate the defunct garden. Group members generally had lost hope and interest with the garden and a good number were no longer participants. The few interested only in doing maize farming remained actively planting in an already enclosed garden perimeter that does not allow entry by animals and livestock.

The desire for positive impact, provision of basic nutritious food and the drive towards fortification of food as the major pillars of food security to eradicate poverty within groups and communities prompted the need to re-do and adopt the garden. An intuitive art of re-mobilizing the group was inculcated to the EDF Mrs R Zimbango who carbon copied everything in the quest to bring the members together. The members complied and were taught on the essence of ownership and empowerment by the Field Officer and sporadically agreed in principles. The pursuant visits by the team ignited some hope in some of the group members and they concurred to resuscitating the now defunct garden. With the motherly love, the elderly grannies and uncles started to feel inclined in following what we taught them and agreed to contribute a dollar towards purchasing of seed for the initial planting with the EDF donating some of her own seed to the group for nursing.

To date the garden is now 50% green with members already putting in place plans to cover the whole garden area with plants ranging from butter nuts, potatoes, green vegetables and other garden fruits. Tomatoes and rape vegetables are the major crops so far that the members have put to the ground. Pictures below shows the garden status to date:

 

Above: Part of the garden vegetable

 

 

Above: Chikomba Intern M. Pfumojena inspecting the quality of the vegetables

 

Before engagement with Hand in Hand Zimbabwe.

The sorry state of the garden was generally an eye-sore to all and sundry with some interested local people wanting to evict the sole beneficiaries. Almost about to lose grip of the garden, group members held onto it primarily doing a parallel to the garden’s intended use. Local people around raised concern that the permanently secured garden was hardly in use, hence, should be given to self-driven hardworking individuals willing to improve the community’s problems of acquiring vegetables and other garden products. Their argument held water due to the fact that the desolate piece of land differed in other bush and branch fenced garden which were better used unlike a secured one not hardly made use of.

 

View from the whole garden area

The whole garden area is approximately close a hectare of arable land in wetlands. This enables the group to easily draw water from the shallow wells they have dug for watering. These shallow wells are placed in the middle of the garden for easy access of all the garden members. Although the water sources are not perennial, members intimated that they hardly lack for their crops but were of the opinion that if they get a permanent source of irrigation water, then it will be a very good positive to the group.

 

 

Challenges

The major challenges the group is facing currently is of establishing a resounding market where they can sell their vegetables. Plans were afoot with the organization to try and link them with Supermarkets such as Spar, Pick n Pay as well as vendors from within Chivhu Township. To date, they have not made any significant inroads towards establishing a one stop market, rather, they rely on the common market where all and sundry just come and buy for the day. More so, the absence of money in circulation and liquidity crunch has worsened the group’s quest for maximizing on their garden returns. Rather, the group is mooting an idea to resort to barter trade but with no significant backing on where to market proceeds from the barter trade exercise.

With the water table rapidly fluctuating, the only sources of water for their garden is dwindling at a very fast rate and will prompt to a catastrophic situation if a lasting solution is not put in place. Further to the above, the knock on effects of absence of a secure source of water made the group to fear utilizing the whole garden area with fear that their crops won’t reach maturity.

Recommendations

  1. That the group be assisted through the Community Upliftment Fund and secure a permanent source of water for their garden
  2. That market linkages be put in place where the group can easily supply and replenish the supplies with time
  3. That the group be trained in Technical skills, namely Food Processing, as a value addition concept to easy the market problem
  4. That the group members be handheld by the organization for a prolonged period to easy chances of losing interest with the Horticulture project and the organization’s Saving and Lending model
  5. That expertise in the Horticulture calendar be brought about to assist the group members have a wide range of crops that suits the market all year round.

 

Compiled by Hazel Mhembere

‘’SUCCESS AT MY DOOR STEP ‘’

NameZorodzai Bhengedza
Age38 years
SexFemale
Marital StatusMarried
District ,Ward ,VillageChikomba , 15,Maseva village
Number of HIH members9
SHGMavambo
Individual enterpriseTake away

 

The road to success is often so long and tiresome. In the world many people became business persons in order to escape from the jaws of rampant poverty.  Entrepreneurship has become the answer  and only alternative to improve the lives and livelihoods of the people. Mrs Zorodzai Bhengedza is a good example of such people who are fighting poverty through creating their own enterprises.  She has established a TAKE-AWAY business in Maseva village of ward 15. Years passed as she ignored her talent of preparing best meals. In 2017 she was visited by the HIH team, which brought good news to her and she managed to join other women and formed a SHG named Mavambo meaning To Begin. The SHG consist of 7 females 2 males. As a group they were trained on Internal savings and lending,  how to start, develop and sustain a business. They started contributing $10 per member which they loan to start their various enterprises and return at an interest of 10%. As one of Mavambo SHG group member she managed to secure an internal loan of $80 which she combined with her personal savings and started the canteen.

 

Zorodzai’s Take Away

Zorodzai at work in her Take away. Life has never been the same for her and her family

After receiving trainings from Hand in Hand  she then married theory (what she was taught by the Hand In Hand team) with practice by starting her own enterprise. At the age of 38 she realized there was so much she had not done. One thing she realized, was she could cook and she could do it better than everyone else around her. Now she realised that she has what it takes to be successful and it’s never too old to dream as she is making a difference and enhancing people’s lives. As she has now created employment for two individuals who assist her in fetching water and cutting firewood for her business.

The Picture below shows Mrs Bhengedza’s take away and people enjoying their delightful meals served at the Take Away. Her meals coast $1 per plate and on average Zorodzai’s total sales amount to $10 per day. Thus $300 per month. She sales a variety of dishes which include chicken roast, chicken stew, beef bones, vegetables, potatoes roast, coleslaw, rice and sadza.

 

 

 

Hand in Hand Team enjoying a meal at Zorodzai Take away

Next case study: Vegetable Value Addition