The goal of KAITE is to work with smallholder farmers and wild collectors to reduce poverty and capacitate communities for improved food security.
An environmental impact assessment was a prerequisite for the Trust when it applied for certification from the Union of Ethical Biotrade, which was subsequently granted in February 2010. Kaite is the first initiative in Africa to have achieved this. All wild harvesting of plants is undertaken in a sustainable way, so that the existing stocks are not harmed and their survival is not threatened. Wild harvesters are trained before the harvesting begins.
- Training in sustainable livelihoods, healthy diet, preventable diseases, general hygiene, rainwater harvesting, compost toilets
- Training in organizational development
- Training in community action and community theatre on gender issues
- Supporting the increasing number of orphans within the farming communities
- Facilitating HIV and AIDS prevention and care for the farmers and their families, as well as linking them to appropriate counselling and health services
- Adult literacy courses for members of the farmers’ associations
- Income and employment generation through value-adding processing, particularly for female-headed households
These farmers do not have adequate knowledge about sustainable agriculture and wild collection, as well as value-adding methods to reverse ongoing land degradation, which has led in turn to lower yields and a marked decrease in their food security. And the improper use of agro-chemicals has caused devastating soil erosion. Since the support infrastructure for rural agriculture has largely disappeared, the majority of small-scale producers in Zimbabwe are currently trapped in a vicious cycle of extreme poverty, with heavy reliance on unaffordable or unavailable inputs, unsustainable hikes in transportation costs, and volatile market prices.
For small-scale Zimbabwean farmers, Kaite’s promotion of high value crops and underutilized plant species for both domestic consumption and for marketing and sale has many benefits:
- These crops favor the poorest of the poor
- This form of agriculture benefits women
- Such crops complement conventional food crops
- Indigenous species are drought tolerant
- They bestow competitive advantages to local producers
- They increase family cash income and therefore food security
- They increase technical and management capacities of participating rural communities
- International certification guarantees fair partnership.
- Women and youth development and empowerment
- HIV and AIDS awareness, prevention and care
- Health and nutrition
- Water and sanitation
- Environment and climate change
- Income generating activities and value addition
Kaite conducts community engagement workshops to understand the problems, the needs and aspirations of the communities it works in, to establish a starting point for its programs and to prepare for longer term partnership in the participating communities. Participatory community facilitation using the Art of Hosting is employed, a methodology which encourages everyone to speak, including those who would normally stay silent due to traditional or cultural mores. The emphasis is on appreciation of what a community has, and where it wants to go together. Possible solutions and opportunities are sought, programmes planned and implemented.
Workshops on ‘farming as a business’ are part of Kaite’s community engagement: clay stove making workshops, for example, teach household members how to construct stoves from clay that they can source in their own areas using only six bricks. Easy to make and cheap, but most important, these stoves use less wood, thereby helping reduce deforestation and the time women and children spend gathering firewood. Income-generating activities like dryer workshops are also organised with youth members of the participating communities, so that they can learn how to construct and sell the dryers to farmers who need them to process their crops.
Kaite’s aim is to help develop the farmers’ associations and thereby develop the surrounding farming communities. The associations are engaged in the following activities:
- Improving crop quality and quantity
- Tackling challenges of input supplies and marketing of farmers’ produce
- Opening up new markets (e.g., through Fair Trade certification)
- Improving associations’ performance (e.g., through training in leadership, conflict management, training in farming as a business)
- Acting as a conduit for micro-credit
- Strengthening community action, thus improving the well-being and sustainability of communities