1 January 2008

Zimbabwe: Urban Agriculture Flourishes in Harare

Harare — RESIDENTS in and around Harare have capitalised on the incessant rains currently being experienced to plant maize and other crops for subsistence as more families get involved in urban agriculture.

A survey around the city, mostly in high-density suburbs, showed that urban agriculture was thriving as most residents took up patches of land dotted around the city to plant various crops for their families.

Others have used the little space in their yards to plant crops. The flourishing of urban farming comes as Harare Metropolitan Governor Cde David Karimanzira said recently that there was need to establish a greenbelt around urban centres to ensure food security for residents vulnerable to escalating costs of basic commodities.

Cde Karimanzira said the province should ensure that urban dwellers benefit from the land reform programme in the same way as their counterparts in the communal areas.

The most popular crops are maize, sweet potatoes, soyabeans, and vegetables, among others. The face of urban agriculture, which was a previously the domain of women and children, has changed dramatically as more and more men try to beat the economic challenges.

Mr Josphat Makunye, of Highfield, said he started urban farming this year to fend for his four children.

"With a bucket of maize going for anything above $5 million, it is only plausible that I do subsistence farming because times are hard," said Mr Makunye.

Ms Jessica Mbano of Glen Norah said she had planted about an acre of maize to feed her family.

"I have not been doing this over the years but with the ever rising cost of living, I have to come up with ways to feed my family," said Ms Mbano.

"My fear is that the incessant rains pounding the city are preventing me from applying fertilizer."

Three weeks ago, Cde Karimanzira said the province was identifying land around urban areas for allocation to residents for farming as well as keeping livestock.

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