In Zimbabwe’s Masvingo region the ground is dry and dusty. It hasn’t rained in months. Overall lower rainfall and rising temperatures, due to climate change, mean traditional farming techniques are no longer working, and for many farmers, crops have failed for the third year in a row.
While many families rely on government food aid to survive, there isn’t enough to go around.
Zimbabwe is also experiencing a deep economic crisis and widespread unemployment, so other sources of income are hard to find. When crops fail, people go hungry and children are malnourished, with schooling often out of the question.
These were the circumstances that faced Jesina and her family.
“Before… life was very difficult for us,” Jesina said.
“We used to practice traditional farming and we did not get much out of it. I felt very bad because I could only feed my family once a day. It pained me so much.”
Jesina was visited by a field coordinator for Act for Peace’s partner, Christian Care, who offered to teach her a new way of farming much better suited to the cycle of drought and low rainfall that Zimbabwe is now experiencing.
Called conservation farming, it involves techniques such as digging individual pits for each corn plant and covering the ground with mulch to keep the water from evaporating.
These simple but revolutionary techniques changed everything for Jesina.
“In the first year of practicing conservation farming I was so thrilled and happy with the yield on my small plot,” she said beaming. “I could see a very brighter future for me and my family.”
After one year, Jesina not only had enough maize to feed her family, but she was able to sell the excess and purchase a goat, which she then bred.
She has turned her plot from a barely fertile wasteland to a thriving farm. Since the harvest from her fields has gone up, Jesina can now send her children to school.
“In the second year I worked hard and my harvest was very good,” she said.
“I managed to pay school fees for all my children and I also bought them new clothes for Christmas.
“I’m now in my third year, and I have many goats, turkeys, guinea fowl and chickens.”
Jesina said that even though this year’s crop will not be as bountiful as the last because of the current drought, she’ll be able to manage thanks to the techniques she’s learnt.
“Conservation farming helped me a lot because right now I have many livestock, even if I don’t harvest much from my plot, I can always sell some of my livestock and buy food.”
Through her own hard work and the use of the new farming methods, Jesina has become largely self-sufficient.
“I feel very proud and happy,” she said.
“I now have my own food and means to survive. I hope my children will learn from me what I have learnt so that they have an improved life.”
It is thanks to the generous gifts of compassionate Christmas Bowl supporters all across Australia that farmers like Jesina have been trained in conservation farming.
With the methods Act for Peace’s partners teach, and the seeds and equipment they are able to provide, farmers can double the amount of food they can grow on their land, ensuring a healthy and sustainable future for their family.
“I want to thank Australians for bringing this program to us. May the Lord bless them,” Jesina said with a huge smile.
Last year, generous Uniting Church members in Victoria and Tasmania raised more than $400,000 for the Christmas Bowl, and helped to bring clean water, soap and toilets to South Sudanese refugees living in Ethiopia’s Gambella region.
This year your generous gifts to the Christmas Bowl appeal can help Zimbabwean families facing severe hunger learn conservation farming so they can always have enough to eat.
Please give to the Christmas Bowl today by visiting www.actforpeace.org.au/christmasbowl or calling 1800 025 101.