Findings indicate that LFSP beneficiaries belong to widely varying socio-economic groups. Many farmers do not have the human or financial capacity to take on the risk necessary to increase investment and improve their agricultural productivity. As a result, LFSP activities should be tailored to the different sub-populations eligible in the programme.
With the increasing global scrutiny from donors over the value for money achieved by development programmes, it is important that programme impact can be accurately measured and that interventions are supported by thorough evidence.
To this end, the LFSP Baseline Report, completed in January 2016 by LFSP’s Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation partner, Coffey, presents key information that will be used at the end of the programme to measure changes that LFSP has brought about. The report also provides information for immediate use among LFSP partners and DFID Zimbabwe, as it deepens the knowledge about the populations LFSP is targeting and about what the programme can do to address their needs.
Farming households are poor but they cope by consuming their own production
The baseline findings show that targeted farmers and their households are substantially more affected by poverty than other rural households in the country. But importantly, most households suffer from little or no hunger as they are able to sustain their consumption through their own farm production.
Income derived from agriculture sales is generally low, with large variations
Further evidence suggests that on average, less than half of farmer household income is derived from agriculture sales, implying that the rest of the food households produce is mostly for consumption. However, the ratio of food sold to the food consumed varies widely between households.
A major constraint to market access is access to services, inputs and finance
Few households have access to savings or credit services. Livelihoods and assets owned by targeted farmers are limited, preventing the use of assets as collateral. The low margin achieved on outputs, caused by low prices paid for the outputs and the relative high cost of the inputs, is the primary barrier to accessing markets for smallholder farmers.
Using these insights, the report presents a range of recommendations for the LFSP’s Agricultural Productivity and Nutrition and Market Development components.
Caution not to harm farmers’ livelihoods and assets
In light of the heterogeneity among LFSP beneficiaries, it is recommended that LFSP partners list and monitor the risks of subjecting low-income farming households or households with limited assets to inappropriate risks that could irreparably damage their livelihoods and assets, if they go wrong.
Targeting and tailoring
We recommend LFSP partners take stock of the different types of trainings offered to farmers, forming groups of farmers with different needs and capabilities to make the most of the range of LFSP activities offered. Once beneficiary registration is complete, there is a need to assess what specific needs are and repackage the interventions according to farmers’ priorities.
Access to finance
Lack of information on where to access credit, a distrust of banks and negative experiences with some financial agencies entail that improving access to rural finance, while strongly in demand, will not be as straightforward as it may seem. The Rural Finance component was launched relatively late compared to other LFSP activities, and the scale of roll-out, suitability of financial products and level of uptake is where efforts need to be directed in the coming months.
Download the full report here.