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What makes Jane Chiganga such a great farmer?

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A family diversifies its farming, and ends malnutrition at home.

I thought you might like to meet a family I visited recently in Manicaland province in Zimbabwe.

First, just a little about Manicaland: This is a really beautiful area, with dramatic granite mountains and green valleys full of farms. It gets decent rainfall and has good soil. Farmers here grow a lot of maize and other food, but for some reason children in this area suffer from stunting — they’re malnourished and don’t grow up as big as they should.

Oxfam has been working with an organization in Manicaland called INSPIRE to help families grow more and different types of food, diversify their diet, and improve their level of nutrition — part of the Livelihoods Food Security Programme (LFSP). Oxfam’s role is to help INSPIRE work with women involved in agriculture and promote more gender equity.

INSPIRE trains farmers in innovative agricultural techniques. It designates the best producers to become what they call lead farmers, so they can then train others. Jane Chiganga is one of these lead farmers. She and her husband Oscar have also tested some new plowing and planting techniques to grow bio-fortified maize and a local sorghum variety, and their demonstration plots were full of these tall maize plants with broad, green leaves and chubby corn cobbs. Next to these plots were shorter, and rather sad looking maize plants with yellow-ish leaves that had not benefited from the new techniques. Oscar says he intends to expand the new techniques to larger areas of their two-acre farm next year.

Jane told me that they now grow so much more food that she has a surplus she can sell, or share with neighbors who might need help. They’re also raising chickens now.

Jane also told me they used to just eat one thing, usually maize meal, over and over, but now they have a more balanced diet and they are no longer hungry.

Oscar told me the seven grandchildren living with them are happier and more active now, they have a lot more energy and are always jumping around having fun.

Jane told me that her role as a lead farmer is helping her meet people and become a leader. She says she has so many visitors coming to her for training, she is writing a book to share her agriculture and nutrition advice. She has notebooks full of writing in her native language, Shona.

She’s a really inspiring person, and I’m looking forward to reading her book!

Your contributions to Oxfam make this work possible, thank you so much for your support.

The Livelihoods Food Security (LFSP) Programme is funded by the Department for International Development (DfID) and implemented by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) through a consortium of  organizations in Zimbabwe.  Oxfam supports the LFSP program as the gender technical partner and works with INSPIRE on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in agriculture.

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