Agroecology in practice – A visit to the Shashe Household Centres of Excellence

Aroecology is built under various pillars that are called Principles of Agroecology, namely Care and fairness, Diversity, food sovereignty, equality, connectivity of elements, agroforestry and to mention just but a few. Shashe Agroecology School has to the best of their ability tried to capture most of these principles in their day to day practices of Agroecology.

Located just about 50km away from Masvingo Central Business District, Shashe School of Agroecology has embraced going 100% organic throughout their farming activities challenging the Fambidzanai Permaculture Centre School of Agroecology Students to also implement Agroecological principles in their districts and homesteads.

The visit was mostly based on tours were the local farmers took the students through their Agroecological practices namely Water harvesting, fish ponds, livestock, gardens, small grain fields, orchards, seed banks and their history archives.

Speaking during the tours, Mr. Peter Mudzingwa was of the view that, to them there is nothing called waste as everything has its own use that benefits the next.

“There is nothing called waste, everything has its own use somewhere, be it chicken waste, it can be used to feed the fish in our ponds, kitchen waste can also be used to feed pigs. Pig, goat, cow and chicken waste can also be used as manure in our gardens showing that everything is equally important,” Said Mr. Mudzingwa.

Farmers in Shashe now have food sovereignty and food security as everything they want to eat is locally available in their community and as a result they use less money and sometimes get more income through selling of their field products.

Gogo Mavedzenge, one of the Agroecology farmers in Shashe highlighted that in Agroecology a farmer has to use less money especially for inputs as they have to use the locally available resources but get more income through farming

“We do not necessarily have to be buying everything we need to use in our fields, we try as much as we can to minimize the cost of production by using the locally available resources as inputs like manure, organic matter (Murakwani), Chicken waste as fish feed and others just to cut costs and in the process guaranteeing organic and healthy food for our families.

“Agroecology on its own has to generate income for the farmer as there would be a variety of products to sell in the market, ranging from fruits, fresh vegetables, roadrunner chickens, goats, small grains and others,” She said.

FPC School of Agroecology Students were challenged by what they saw at Shashe Agroecology School and pledged to become Ambassadors of Agroecology in their districts of operation as well as their households.

“We have been highly motivated to become ambassadors of Agroecology because what we have seen here is par-excellent, a perfect practical learning field for all those studying towards Agroecology, no wonder why they have called them Households Centres of Excellence.” Said Richard Mhazo one of the FPC students.

Previous Chabuda, another FPC student was also of the view that it was clearly demonstrated that even in the face of El Nino, small grains still stand a chance with that little rainfall that was received in this area.

“Small grains still stand a chance even in the face of El Nino because they can withstand these harsh conditions and can survive even if there is low rainfall, unlike maize that requires more rainfall. This is a great lesson that we have learnt here in Shashe and we should just revert back to our old ways of producing small grains.” She said.

The Shashe Agroecology School visit was indeed a success as a lot was learnt from these Household Centres of Excellence and the information imparted on the students will definitely be carried to other districts they operate in and implement them.

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