Zimbabwe Farmers' Union

The Young Farmers Innovation Lab


Project Title 


Collaborative Pilot to Strengthen Entrepreneurship among Young Farmers in Zimbabwe

Convening Partners


United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU)

Collaborating Partner 

Harare Institute of Technologies (HIT)


Sandown Corporate Limited

Khangela Studios

Strategic Partners  

Barclays Zimbabwe

Computer Society of Zimbabwe

Target Location (S) For Pilot 


  1. Murehwa, Mashonaland East, Zimbabwe
  2. Manicaland, Zimbabwe

Target Number

90 Young farmers


(April – December 2015)

38 weeks


Background And Justification


The agricultural sector is the backbone of Zimbabwe’s economy, contributing food for domestic consumption and surplus for the market. In addition the sector is the second leading employer contributing more than 70% of employment opportunities, and 13% of the national Gross Domestic Product annually (World Bank 2014). The Zimbabwe’s economic blueprint, ZIM ASSET, positions agriculture as a key driver to economic development and growth, while defining specific objectives and strategies for the sector under the Food and Nutrition Cluster.

The 2013-2017 Zimbabwe Agriculture Investment Plan emphasises the need to “facilitate a sustainable increase in production, productivity and competitiveness of Zimbabwean agriculture through building capacity of farmers and institutions, improving the quantity and quality of public, private and development partner investment, and alignment”.

There is also a call for value addition within the production chain to enhance productivity while also injecting innovation within the agriculture sector. While the agriculture sector has potential to scale employment creation, there are challenges in terms of how to attract the majority of the unemployed segments, namely the youth. Over 60% of Zimbabwe’s population is comprised of young people, who have the potential to drive the economy.

This demographic is highly educated, skilled, but remains largely unemployed. Some do have access to land, but their productivity is limited and does not translate to economic empowerment. At the heart of this discussion is several issues, namely, lack of innovation within the agriculture sector especially among the young farmers; lack of capacity to leverage agriculture as a viable business; and the costs and risks associated with innovation in the sector.

Innovation in Agriculture

For the agriculture sector to transform the lives of young people – by creating employment and enhancing their ability to access sustainable livelihoods, the manner in which farming is approached needs to change. The ZIM ASSET outlines key systemic challenges that the sector faces across the whole value chain. These include: lack of agricultural financing and affordable inputs and prolonged periods of drought caused by climatic changes” .

In addition, there is an appreciation that challenges within the sector are multi-dimensional and complex. They range from lack of access to markets, credible information, new technologies, financing and in some cases inputs. It is therefore vital that more innovative approaches that harness the potential of strategic partnerships while also leveraging the capacity of new technologies are adopted.

This is at the heart of this proposed intervention. Rationale of the Pilot To address the above challenges, a collaborative pilot project is proposed to innovatively strengthen the entrepreneurship capacities of young farmers through an integrated innovation lab process. This project seeks to target young farmers (aged 15-34 years old) and through a targeted approach, link them to seed funding, skills and partnerships to innovate within their various areas of production. Key to this process is identifying entry points for providing ICT based solutions to some of the challenges faced by the sector.


Overall Objective The overall aim of the proposed pilot intervention seeks to innovatively develop and nurture entrepreneurship abilities of young farmers in Zimbabwe, by tapping into seed innovation funds and diverse capacities of viable strategic partnerships with the private sector, tech and innovation hubs and technical institutions. A design process and plan lasting 36 weeks will be initiated and rolled out, and it is expected that at least 90 agri-based enterprises will be established with capacity to probably create employment among young farmers while also contributing to food security.

Specific Objectives To achieve its overall aim, the pilot project will be guided by the following specific objectives:

  • To design a young farmers innovation lab process across the agricultural sector value chain
  • To equip young farmers (selected from within the framework of the Zimbabwe Farmer’s Union) with tailor-made agribusiness and entrepreneurship as well as ICT skills
  • To collaboratively with young farmers design, development, pilot and deploy ICT-based solutions for young farmers across the value chain. This will revolve around innovations for record keeping, strengthening market linkages as well as platforms for building a young farmers brand on markets.
  • To establish and implement a label for young farmers creating a defining characteristic. By defining quality standards, sustainability imposts and the creation of knowledge amongst the beneficiaries, the label will provide a market advantage for the Young Farmers.
  • To design and implement a sustainability model for nurturing young farmers entrepreneurship development in Zimbabwe (Through transfer of a management trust facility independent of the mainstream structures)

Project Implementation And Management Plan



Collaborating Partners

Strategic Partners

  1. Design a collaborative Young Farmers Innovation Lab programme with a steering committee

April 2015



  1. Identification of 90 Young Farmers/ Young Farmers Clubs (and capacity needs assessment)

April 2015



  1. Creation of an innovative Young Farmers agri-product Label in Zimbabwe


Khangela Studios


  1. Registering of a Trust to administer the Label

April 2015



  1. Programme launch and inception session

May 2015



  1. Design, development and deployment of a young farmers online portal and hub

May 2015



  1. Implement a comprehensive entrepreneurship training lab:
    1. Entrepreneurial skills
    2. Farming as a business
    3. Financial literacy/ M&E
    4. Use of IT/ ICT

May 2015



  1. Design and development of demand-driven and market oriented ICT-based solutions for your agribusiness sector

On going throughout the project



  1. Procurement of key inputs, equipment that are strategic for the pilot
  2. Objectives



Barclays Zimbabwe

  1. Provision of Technical Agricultural Assistance; support to business mentorship and establishing linkages; ICT support

Ongoing throughout the project


All partners

  1. Establishment of market linkages for agribusiness development

Ongoing throughout the project

ZFU, Sandown Corporate Limited


  1. Regular Monitoring and Evaluation
    1. Farming activities
    2. Project progress

Ongoing throughout the project



  1. Young farmers innovation Talks as part of documentation and Knowledge Management strategies

Ongoing throughout the project



Expected Results

As a result of this pilot initiative, it is expected that:

  1. At least 90 small holder farming enterprises demonstrate increase in productivity and access to markets
  2. A Zimbabwe innovative agri-product label for young farmers established and adopted by key standards associations.
  3. At least 3 ICT based solutions for increasing farming productivity, strengthening market linkages and enhancing small holder farmer interactions developed and deployed across the value chain
  4. At least 30 young farmer teams (of 3 each) have to access to ICTs and other key technologies to support the growth of agribusiness sector.
  5. At least 90 Young Farmers Clubs design; pilot and implement clear marketing and business development strategies as a result of tailor made entrepreneurship training.
  6. At least 3 knowledge products are developed, published and disseminated towards replication and up scaling of the pilot


Project beneficiaries, selection criteria and target location

The project will target 90 Young Farmers aged between15 and 35 years. The targeted locations are in Goromonzi, Murhewa, Harare and Honde Valley, Manicaland.

The beneficiaries will be selected on the below criteria:

  • Established farming business
  • Access to land
  • Access to water
  • Access to sufficient human resources
  • Willingness to implement farm-record-keeping Application (established during the Farming Fussion), as well as other upcoming Applications
  • Readiness to accept requirements of the label and to produce under it


Targeted agri-sector and distribution

For purposes of this pilot project, the following key agri-sectors are proposed.

  1. 1.         Chicken rearing/ slaughtering/ packaging
  • 21 Young Farmers in Murehwa
  • 21 Goromonzi based Young Farmers
  • All the 42 are those with already established structures
  • 4 badges each with 200 chickens
  1. 2.         Dried fruits and vegetables
  • 20 Young Farmers in Murehwa producing and drying Tomatoes
  • 8 Young urban/ peri-urban Farmers around Harare producing and drying Tomatoes
  • 20 Young Farmers in Honde Valley, Manicaland producing and drying Bananas/ Mangos


The targeted locations were chosen by the presence of strong supporting provincial structures of ZFU, already established farming businesses of Youth as well as a strong need for innovation in the area of conserving food. Fresh produce during harvesting season is abundant, but the market is saturated. Post-harvest losses due to a lack of infrastructure are widespread in these areas. The reasoning to target chicken production on the one hand is constant demand and readily available markets. And on the other hand the existence of already established chicken-farming businesses ensures a predominant level of know-how.

Dried fruits and vegetables tackle two key problems in the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe, high post-harvest losses and the lack of the processing sector. A first step into the processing sector is the conservation of food. Therefore dried fruits and vegetables also upgrade the farming of primary products towards an integrated value chain approach. Innovations in reducing post-harvest losses through conserving food products and simultaneously increasing productivity will enhance farming in the targeted geographical areas, develop the agricultural sector and contribute towards greater food-security.