PhD candidate Bulisani Ncube feeds back on his research in the Chimanimani District of eastern Zimbabwe. Through assessing the seed and food security status of households, he tries to understand the impact that seed security has on food security, also looking at underlying drivers of these impacts. In January 2017, Bulisani conducted household interviews in Chaseyama and Chikukwa in Chimanimani District. With the assistance of local enumerators, 114 households spread over seven villages were surveyed in Chaseyama, while in Chikukwa 113 households across 10 villages were reached.  These households represent about 10% of the study population. The two different sites are representative of different rainfall zones, Chikukwa being located in a high rainfall area (Zimbabwe Natural Region 1) and Chaseyama representative of a low rainfall area (Zimbabwe Natural Region 4).

Bulisani has completed coding the semi-structured questionnaires and will next enter the data on SPSS software and conduct preliminary analysis on the status of farmers’ seed and food security. So far his data reveals:

The diversity of crops grown in the past (last 10 years or more) and why some crops are no longer being grown.

Seed crops (field crops) planted during the previous season (2015-16): Seed sources (own stock, purchase, through social networks, seed aid); quantity planted; use of fertilizers and pesticides (organic and inorganic); quantity harvested; sales and consumption data.

Seed crops (field crops) grown this season (2016-17): Seed sources; seed availability; accessibility (cost, proximity, how sourced); seed quality (physical purity, and germination); and the farmers’ perceptions of the seed situation for the next season.

Seed storage and losses: Methods used to select and differentiate seed from grain/food; seed preservation methods used; determination of seed losses during storage; key crops affected and quantities lost.

Fruits and vegetables grown: Seed sources and use of the harvests (household consumption, sales, sharing).

Other household livelihood characteristics:  Land size owned and used; livestock owned; main income sources; and household assets.

Food availability and access issues (in the past, versus currently): Household dietary diversity scores; food insecurity experiences; local definition of food secure households; ways of assisting food insecure households.

Access to water: The household’s major water source; distance to household and reliability.

Bulisani’s next field trip is planned for July 2017. He hopes that by then he will have conducted preliminary analyses of the household questionnaires and identified some gaps or additional/interesting queries to investigate further. In July he hopes to do the following:

  • Conduct seed market surveys with agro-dealers.
  • Conduct in-depth interviews with extension officers across the two sites.
  • Conduct historical trend analyses with farmer groups across the two sites.
  • Conduct in-depth life history interviews/oral histories with a number of individual farmers.