Mudzi district is situated in the north east of Zimbabwe, on the border with Mozambique. Average annual rainfall is typically under 700mm. Farmers grow maize, small grains such as sorghum and millet, groundnuts, bambara nuts (round nuts), cowpeas and vegetables, mainly tomatoes and leafy vegetables. The area is suitable for livestock production and many households own goats and chicken. Many farmers try to earn an income with cotton production. But the continuously fluctuating price of cotton makes it very difficult for them to plan whether or not to devote their land and efforts to this crop.
Mrs. Chiruvo, her husband and 5 children stay in ward 13 in Mudzi district. Grain amaranth was introduced in her area in the 2013-14 farming season. Mrs. Chiruvo attended regular training meetings on its cultivation and received 250g of seed which she planted in a 0.25ha plot. She says “While the crop was growing, I regularly harvested fresh leaves from the plants and fed them as a relish to my family. I also managed to dry a bag of leaves. I will cook those when fresh vegetables become scarce in the village. My family and I enjoy this delicious vegetable.”
Mrs. Chiruvo harvested 135kg of grain; she sold 115kg and kept the rest to try out new recipes, some for seed in the next season and also gave some to her neighbours who now also want to grow the grain. She made USD115 from the grain sold. “I was amazed, considering the small size of the plot under amaranth! I used part of the money to pay school fees for my children and also bought inputs for the next rainy season.” She is encouraging her relatives and friends to go for amaranth, which provides vegetables and a good income for households.
Mrs Angeline Muzengeza, a 53-year old grandmother from Matienga Village, Ward 13, lives with her orphaned grandchildren. Despite her age, she shows great passion for farming. In the 2013-14 farming season, Mrs Muzengeza did not grow amaranth herself but she participated in all the trainings that were conducted in her village. She then decided to give it a try in the 2014-15 season. She asked for seed from a neighbour who had retained seed from the previous crop and planted 0.04ha with the first rains. During the vegetative stage of the crop Angeline and her family enjoyed the green leaves as vegetables. She also dried a bucket of amaranth leaves using a solar drier. She sold some dried amaranth vegetable in 500g packets and earned USD5.
Mrs Muzengeza then harvested 81kg of amaranth grain, kept 1kg for seed for her and for neighbours interested in planting amaranth. The rest of her harvest, she sold, making USD80. With the earnings, Mrs Muzengeza bought two complete school uniforms for her grandchildren. She’s also managing to pay her monthly subscription to her ISAL (Internal Savings and Lending) group (USD5/month) and is expecting to get 2 bags of AN and 1 bag of compound D (fertilisers) as proceeds of her savings.