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GOING BACK TO "EDEN", TO FOOD SECURITY, ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, AND WHERE HEALTH IS WEALTH.

To restore flora and fauna, agricultural ecological balance and high crop productivity in Bova rural, through eco-friendly modern technology

Photo of Robert Mtombeni
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Practical Agro Solutions Ltd

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Farmer Co-op or Farmer Business Organization

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

1.Foundations For Farming Zimbabwe, trainer of rural or smallholder farmers on sustainable farming. 2. Ecocert South Africa,trainer on sustainable and organic farming, organic farming audit and certifying farmers to enable them to export in to the E.U and U.S.A. 3.DFM Technologies, provides remote monitoring technology for farmers. 4. MAMA Africa (Moringa for Afforestation and Malnutrition Alleviation in Africa), promoting planting of moringa trees as a source of nutritious food and tool to fight climate change, as moringa can absorb carbon dioxide 20 times more than other trees. 5.Bova Rural Community Trust, the local community we are working with in order to restore our clean environment, healthier diet and to ensure food security at household level.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

www.practicalagrosolutions.com

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 10+ years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Bova village of Gokwe

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Zimbabwe

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Bova village, a rural community in Gokwe, covering about 250 square km.

What country is your selected Place located in?

Zimbabwe

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

I was born in this place, I remember how the fields used to be fertile, the forests were full of fruits and wild animals. The community was food secure by then, but now it is turning into more like a desert, hence we need not only to stop that, but to restore our forests and fields back to their 1980 condition or better. We are going back to the garden of Eden by 2050, where the environment will be cleaner, forests full of fruits and animals. Eden refers to the biblical place where everything was perfect, humans living in harmony with nature.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The community is rural, relied on traditional knowledge and limited morden technology for cultivation of fields, collection of wild fruits and hunting of animals, this led to an unsustainable use of natural resources and environmental degradation. This resulted in fields no longer being fertile, animals left the forests and the community became insecure in terms of food. The community has tasted and knows the goodness of living in harmony with nature, hence is very hopeful, willing and prepared to support any initiatives that can  return them to the good, golden, old days, hence the phrase "back to eden" 

The community is in Zimbabwe region 4, where rainfall is less than 400mm per season, very hot and topography is around 800m above sea level. The people are mostly shona and ndebele speaking and live mostly as extended families.

Agriculture is mainly of subsistence type, where crops like maize, cow pea, groundnuts are grown. The people in the community also keep domestic animals mostly small stock like chicken, goats and sheep, as these are found on almost every household. Cattle are kept not necessarily for meat, but for draft power, so as the donkeys, and livestock like  these are mainly owned buy those considered wealthier in the community.

We are also using MAMA Africa ( Moringa for Afforestation and Malnutrition Alleviation in Africa), project to plant some of the moringa trees in Bova rural community, as a way of helping with the environmental restoration process (as per attached video), Although Mama Africa is already working in a number of African countries, "Back to Eden" vision is specifically for Bova community.  

The community is hopeful that the land can be fertile again, forests can host wild animals again.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

5000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Food security in this community, Zimbabwe and Africa is under threat considering that the average age of an African farmer is 60 years in a continent where 60% of the population is under 24 years old, the younger generation is not so keen to venture into farming. In Bova community, most of the youths left the village for cities, living behind the elderly to do the farming in the village. this is a serious threat to the continuation of farming or uptake by the next generation of farmers.

Air pollution by factories and motor vehicles, unsustainable use natural resources are some of the challenges on the environment. The community has somehow left its healthy indigenous diet in favour of processed foods, the culture has been diluted, we no longer consider the nutritious moringa as part of our diet, and there are no strong policies to protect the environment or to promote sustainable use of resources. 

The future challenges are a rising population on an area that is not expanding and technological advancement that is not eco friendly. Total disregard of indigenous knowledge that has kept our ancestors healthier and food secure for generations, is also another challenge.  

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Making agriculture or farming attractive to the younger generation is one of our priorities. We are doing this by introducing technology that does not only make farming easier by interesting as well, eg the remote monitoring and sensing kit (full product details are found on  http://practicalagrosolutions.com/about/).

Holding polutors of the environment accountable, by making them contribute to environmental restoration, eg through deleting of offsetting their carbon footprints through funding projects like tree plantings in communities. In Zimbabwe, Zimplats, the biggest platinum mining company in the country, recorded to have emitted 370 000 tonnes of carbon in 2018, we approached the company and asked it to delete its carbon footprints buy funding the planting of 5 million moringa trees, and the company agreed. We will also push for legislation to encourage or even force other companies to delete of offset their carbon footprints by way of funding tree planting.

Educating the community about the benefits of sustainable use of natural resources is also one of our action plans. Reminding the community about the health benefits of eating natural foods and the need to preserve our wild animals and fruits will also be a priority.

As for the rising population, against a falling national yield average for our staple food maize, which is less than one tonne per ha, we partnered with an organisation called Foundation for Farming and developed a "pfumvunza" plot concept that can produce an equivalent of over 9 tonnes per ha (http://www.foundationsforfarming.org/). The pfumvunza plot is just 39m by 16m but if cultivated as we teach, it can produce enough maize to feed a family of 6 for a whole year. The plot is very small and can be watered by hand, every rural household can easily have its own pfumvunza plot. 

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Natural resources will be used sustainably and conservatively to the benefit and enjoyment of the community, which by then will be having indigenous fruits, indigenous herbs, rivers flowing with clean water into ponds and dams full of fish, forests will be full of grasses, bushes and trees and an assortment of game and honey, fields will be having productive soils coupled with good rains. Indeed this will be a return to the biblical garden of Eden. 

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

The vision is to attain a clean environment, by making polluters accountable, and also to play a part in the restoration efforts, eg through funding planting of trees preferably moringa or financing community projects that are aimed at improving sustainable use of natural resources. We would seek the government to recognize such efforts, either buy giving tax waivers to companies that play a part in environmental restoration, deleting or offsetting of carbon footprints.

A  healthier diet will be attained by promoting the consumption of home grown natural foods, wild fruits, vegetables and game from the forests. We are also promoting the planting of moringa trees at every household, moringa leaves are highly nutritious (31.5 % protein content), rich in vitamins and antioxidants, can be consumed by both humans and animals. On the other hand, moringa trees can act as an income generating project, for the rural community, as moringa leaves, powder can be exported to the developed world where it is considered a superfood due to its nutritional and medicinal properties.

Food security will definitely be attained through the tested and proven concept of pfumvunza plot (as per video), as this will ensure enough food at household level.  We will use eco friendly modern technology to ensure that the restoration process is faster and effective. Some of the technology of using modern chemicals and fertilizers will be completely disregarded as it is the prime cause of our ecosystem failure, we would rather stick to old indigenous knowledge that has always ensured a healthy environment. 

Culturally, moringa has been used in Bova community for generations, to provide nourishment and used as medicine for some sicknesses. Bova community is more than 10km from the nearest clinic, but back then, we never had issues of some illnesses we are witnessing now. It will be important for the community to stick to some cultural practices like using moringa as part of the diet.

It is with the modern technology and researches that we now know about the hidden treasure of moringa ( as per attachment), and the trees capacity to absorb carbon dioxide 20 times more than other general trees, hence contributing to environment. Each household will plant and own at least 5 moring trees. 

A combination of pfumvunza plot (for food security), and moringa tree planting (for nutrition and absorption of carbon dioxide), will surely help in the restoration process of our community back to eden.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website

Attachments (1)

miracle-tree-a-review-on-multipurposes-of-moringa-oleifera-and-itsimplication-for-climate-change-mitigation-2157-7617-1000366.pdf

This is some of the scientific research papers showing how moringa can help with both food nutrition and fighting of climate change.

9 comments

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Spam
Photo of Mat Jones
Team

Hi Robert, I enjoyed reading your submission, it gave me a very good sense of the current food situation in Bova village. I wonder how you anticipate addressing the growing threat of climate change in your vision? Will your solutions stand up to extreme temperatures and droughts?

Spam
Photo of Robert Mtombeni
Team

Hi Mat. Thank you for taking your time to read my submission. It is difficult to stand up to extreme temperatures and drought, the only way we can do is to try and find adaptation innovations like growing drought resistant crops, eg small grains and moringa. The other most important thing we can do is to try and not continue with doing practices that have a negative environmental impact, we should not make the situation worse.

Spam
Photo of Mat Jones
Team

Hi Robert, I think you are right. It looks like climate change could create some seriously worrying pressures on the rural food economy of rural Zimbabwe in the next thirty years.

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