Ali Said Yesuf
Chief Technical Advisor
Food and Agricultural Organisation, Zimbabwe
Tell us about your work.
I am the Chief Technical Advisor in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) responsible for management of the Zimbabwe Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LFSP), a £72.4 UK aid funded programme that contributes to poverty reduction and elimination of hunger amongst 200,000 farming families (approximately one million individuals) through increased incomes and improved food and nutrition security.
Jointly managed by FAO and Palladium International, the LFSP is a multi-component and multi-stakeholder partnership programme implemented by consortium of international and national NGOs, International Agricultural Research Centres (CGIARs), think tanks, academia and private sector players in partnership with Government of Zimbabwe. The programme is being implemented across four (out of the total ten) provinces of Zimbabwe covering 12 districts.
How is your work contributing to SDG 2?
Our work is designed and implemented within the framework of ending hunger with a focus on increasing farm production and productivity, linking smallholder family farmers to profitable local and national markets, enhancing year round access to nutritious foods through diversification of production, nutrition behaviour change as well as eliminating micronutrient deficiencies (hidden hunger) through enhancing production and consumption of biofortified crops. The programme has effectively integrated gender in its various components with targeted youth and women friendly interventions across the various crop and livestock chains. We adopted a cost-effective and sustainable community-led planning methodology for gender mainstreaming, namely Gender Action Learning System (GALS) that helps women and men to have more control over their lives and work together on a basis of shared visions and values of equality. Women constitute 60 percent of the programme participants.
The LFSP is facilitating the provision of pluralistic extension services through the private and public entities, NGOs and farmer-to-farmer learning with the aim of enhancing knowledge, practices and skills of family farmers for improved crop and livestock production and farm productivity. Additionally, in order to improve farmers’ livelihoods and incomes, the programme facilitates access to finance by smallholder farmers and other value chain actors by collaborating with commercial banks and micro-finance institutions, as well as facilitating market linkages between farmer groups and commercial markets whilst also encouraging the development of local economies. This has not only increased access to food within the communities in programme districts but also created streams of income and employment for farmers.
The LFSP attaches a great emphasis to generation of evidence to influence agricultural, food security and nutrition policies and enhance private sector investment towards sustainable transformation of the agri-food system in Zimbabwe.
What is your best food memory?
I once attended a livestock auction during a field mission to a remote village in Zimbabwe’s Midlands Province, Zhombe, where our programme is operating. After having observed how the auction operates and prices are determined against weights and grades of animals, we had to settle under a big tree shade for lunch. The lunch was prepared by a local catering club of young women who participated in the trainings offered by LFSP. We had a meal of millet and orange maize sadza (thick porridge) served with indigenous vegetable blackjack, iron & zinc fortified bean stew and road runner (indigenous chicken). This was the testiest lunch I have ever had in any missions over the last three decades. I was impressed to witness how these enterprising young women could translate the knowledge and skill obtained from the programme to prepare testy and nutritious meals and generate income to their families, all by using locally produced products.
What else would you like to share with other Hub members?
Eliminating hunger requires integrated programming and effective partnership aimed at addressing the diverse needs of smallholder family farmers. Investments are required to enhance the knowledge and skill of farmers in sustainable and climate smart crop and livestock production and nutrition along with access to markets and finance. Deliberate targeting of women and youth in programme interventions and increasing their role in family decision making is critical to success of livelihoods programmes. The experience of LFSP programme is a clear demonstration of how multi-stakeholder partnership which builds on a pool of knowledge and resources from different stakeholders could enable elimination of hunger and improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers.