« 100 Years – 100 Lives » | ZIMBABWE - “The ILO project came to rescue us so that we can sell our bananas for a fair price”

An ILO project focussing on the food production sector and gold ore processing made it possible for people like Weldone Mupita to improve their income.

Feature | Zimbabwe | 20 September 2019
HARARE – An important source of protein in Zimbabwe’s rural areas and a popular snack in the cities, the caterpillar popularly known as mopane worm is also a source of income for some of the most impoverished communities in Zimbabwe.

But processing the edible insects – which are about as long as an adult finger – is a slow and painstaking process that involves squeezing them by hand to expel the guts.

The mopane worm sector is one of the areas that benefitted from the three-year E4WAY Project implemented by the ILO together with the government. It also covered other areas such as horticulture, apiculture and artisanal gold ore milling.

This project aims at enhancing incomes and creating jobs in poor rural areas of Zimbabwe. About 5,000 women and young people – up to the age of 35 – were expected to benefit directly, while the entire population of 650,000 in the five targeted district were also reached indirectly.

Increasing the sales value

The project aimed at creating new jobs and increase the sales value of horticulture products, mopane worms and honey by setting up processing units in existing vocational training centres in the targeted districts.

In addition, about 200 medium-to-small enterprises in the identified food value chains were targetted with business development services, appropriate technology and facilitation of access to credit and markets.

Besides the food processing plants that will benefit the horticultural sector and beekeepers, the project also helped banana farmers access markets, including the European Union, and increase their incomes through product packaging and direct sales to buyers that will cut out the middlemen.

“Unscrupulous buyers”

Weldone Mupita, who cultivates a horticultural plot at the Mupangwa Irrigation Scheme, in the fertile Honde valley of eastern Zimbabwe, says the project “is coming to rescue us.” Until now, he says, “unscrupulous buyers” would only pay 20 US cents or less for a kilo of bananas. “We currently accept any price because bananas are perishable. It’s better to pocket the 20 cents than watch my sweat go to waste.”

The project also set up an artisanal gold ore milling facility run and used by women. At present, large-scale miners capture most of the benefits when they process the ore from artisanal women miners, leaving them with just a small fraction of the gains.

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