Forestry Forces Project sustain communities

Forestry Forces Project sustain communities
November 26 11:22 2018

By Judith Kajuma and Masline Mavudzi

In a bid to compliment government’s effort towards the achievement of the sustainable development goals, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), is working with communities in the Forestry Forces project funded by the European Union at a tune of EU3,5 million for hunger alleviation and improved livelihoods.

This emerged at the end of the project workshop which started in December 2013 ending in December 2018 attended by beneficiaries from eight districts from Matabeleland North, Mashonaland East and Manicaland provinces, government officials and other stakeholders.

FAO assistant representative for Zimbabwe, Mr David Mfote said their role as FAO was to facilitate communities to harness national forests products to improve food security, diversified livelihoods strategies and enhanced capacity to deal with shocks.

“FAO is committed to a holistic approach towards achievement of the sustainable goals hence we are very happy to compliment government’s efforts by working with many of you to support the Zimbabwe community.

“So, when we started this project, we have been able to assist communities to sustainably harvest forestry products and add value to those products and market them, these include baobab fruit, mangeti, marula and some of the farmers are into honey production. FAO and its partners trained farmers to sustainable harvesting and processing of the fruit.,” he said.

Mr Mfote expressed gratitude towards European Union partnership support on the project.

“We are grateful to the European Union for funding the Forest Forces Project which is an acronym for forestry sustainable managed for communities, environment and shock resilience. The project is touching the livelihoods of over 6 000 beneficiaries in the targeted districts of Bulilima, Chimanimani, Hwange, Wedza, Lupane, Matobo, Mutasa and Mutoko, “said Mr Mfote.

He reiterated that some of the equipment were not state of the art but however managed to support the farmers process their products with some getting help from local government and rural district council.

Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry and provincial environmental manager at environmental agency Matebeleland North Mrs Chipo Mpofu Zuze said the project had capacitated communities to manage forests which was a major concern when it came to sustainable management of the environment.

“Communities are now taking upon themselves to go and avoid fires since they are now earning a living out of it and from the concept of this project, communities have been capacitated to derive a benefit out of their forests and this has helped EMA to see our forests being protected for the current and future generations.

She also said the project had helped identify loopholes in forest policy and legal framework reform and a draft policy was submitted to government.

“We made consultations with stakeholders on the new forest policy which was a success. With this policy, we are going to see the need of deriving a benefit out of a forest at the same time ensuring the forests are protected. As Ministry, we are mandated that policies are put in place,” Mrs Zuze said.

European Union senior project manager and policy advisor, Mr Andrea Janoha said the project was a pilot focusing on community based with natural resources.

“We are happy with the results that have been capacitated and now we have people on the ground who are now earning a living out of the project and value change that has been happening. The project has been going for four years now and already we have a second generation following in their fathers’ footsteps.

“Unfortunately, there is no phase two at the moment to support further development but however we are looking at donors and NGOs to keep on supporting this project. The funding was meant to establish value chain, capacity building, training, equipment and allocation or market penetration,” he said.

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