, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 647-656
Date: 27 Oct 2012

Creating food self reliance among the smallholder farmers of eastern Zimbabwe: exploring the role of integrated agricultural research for development

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The failure of the linear and non-participatory Agricultural Research and Development (ARD) approaches to increase food security among smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa has prompted researchers to introduce an Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D) concept. The IAR4D concept uses Innovation Platforms (IPs) to embed agricultural research and development organizations in a network to undertake multidisciplinary and participatory research. This paper uses Zimbabwe as a case study to analyze the relevance of the technologies and innovations that are being promoted by IPs in Zimbabwe to improve food security. Using data collected through the Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Programme, the paper shows that access to inputs, social capital, productivity enhancing technologies and market information are critical in addressing food security issues among smallholder farmers. The multi-stakeholder partnership forged through IPs should adopt a coordinated approach to provide smallholders with access to these prerequisites for food security. The paper argues that more emphasis should be put on these issues rather than on farm research initiatives whose contribution to food security appears to be less significant.