Wetlands Farming A Ray Of Hope For Tongogara Families

By Mark Mhukayesango

TONGOGARA-For years ,Sylvia Magwenzi used to scrounge for food to sustain her
family after being left to bear the burden following the death of her
husband in 2005.
But not anymore would she beg for food in Tongogara District ,
Shurugwi as she is now able to support her family through the UNDP
program in partnership with Shurugwi partners where women are
producing various farm produces in at Tugwi Dekete , wetlands.
According to law any farming on wetlands is prohibited as they are
conserved , but through the help of the Environmental Management
Agency EMA hundreds of villagers can now produce enough for
subsistence and to sell.
“Life was really tough because we always had poor yields due to late
rains. But my family is happier now because i can provide for them and
spare some for sale,” Magwenzi told Radio VOP.
“We engage in organic agriculture which is not expensive because we
don’t use fertilisers. We can farm all year round in the wetlands
which really works well in our region where there is poor rainfall,”
she added.
Magwenzi’s children are all school going age and she has successfully
managed to cater for their educational needs and take care of some of
her extended family.
Philda Musekwa says the project was timely as Shurugwi was reeling
from hunger with little signs of hope as the area is in natural region
four which is characterised by poor rainfall.
“We were staring hunger in the eyes here until Shurugwi Partners came
to our rescue. The vegetables and fresh farm produce we grow is sold
in mines and supermarkets. Our standard of living have immensely
Organic farming which mainly uses compost manure and other soil
preservatives has yielded great results for communities farming in
wetlands around the District.
The Wetlands Biodiversity Conservation project run by Shurugwi
Partners under the auspices of the UNDP fund started in 2008 and has
since produced over 150 farmers in the areas of Chatora Tugwi, Faqar
and Simbarevanhu.
“This is a perennial site which needs support from government and
other departments,” EMA Shurugwi District officer, Severino Kangara
UNDP injected over $49 000 in the wetlands conservation by erecting
fences and providing farmers with seed.
He added:” Organic farming is a safe practice for the ecosystem and is
cheaper for the farmers as no fertilisers are needed.”
Farmers have since 2008 produced compost manure which they use for
farming in the wetlands.
However farmers say it was still difficult to penetrate the market,
but Unki Mine and Sevco were buying regularly.
 “We have managed to sell to Spar supermarket, but our challenge is
that the markets have been a bit elusive hence most of our produce
remains here. So we have created a committee that will spearhead
marketing of our products, ”Plaxedes Tongogara, leader of
Simbarevanhu Wetlands said.
She said this project has changed the lives of many villagers who are
now able to fend for their families.
“Through the UNDP funding we were able to start this project and we
have seen the lives of many villagers change,” Tongogara said.
EMA says birds, fish and herbs were some of the species which were
going extinct before the commencement of the project.