HARARE, 01 July: The 33-year-old mother-of-one is an edible-insect farmer in rural East Zimbabwe.
While people in her village and beyond have been eating insects and worms foraged in the forest or collected during crop harvest for generations, the young entrepreneur has found a way to breed them all year long and in quantities large enough to feed her community and help mitigate the effect of climate change.
In 2020, she set up her edible-insect production unit in a small corrugated-roofed room on her parents’ farm in Marondera, some 100 kilometres (62 miles) insect east of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe.
Like her parents, everyone in her community are smallholder farmers, growing maize, sugar beans, groundnuts, tobacco and other crops, and tending cows and chickens.
Their farm is one of 150 homesteads grouped in three villages, which are settled on a flat landscape crossed by rivers and dams.
Like elsewhere across sub-Saharan Africa, life in the villages is becoming increasingly insec difficult. The country is in the grip of severe food insecurity, with millions of people already requiring humanitarian assistance, according to the 2020 Global Food Crisis Report Forecast (GFCRF).
“Climate variability has become more extreme in the past few years. We have experienced both floods and droughts,” Divasoni explains. This has reduced crop yields and led to malnutrition, hunger and poverty – and also a drop in education because when resources are limited, parents cannot afford to send their children to school, she adds.
20 percent of infants receive a minimally adequate diet in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is one of 10 countries in the world where fewer than 20 percent of infants receive a minimally adequate diet, compromising their lifelong quality of life, according to the report.
When Divasoni was growing up, her parents valued education but did not have the means to pay for secondary school for all their children. “At the time, with family resources so limited, it was normal for a 15-year-old to get married, and many believed that the highest achievement of a woman was marriage. So my four sisters married early,” Divasoni says.
But she wanted to study and a scholarship from the international NGO CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education) allowed her to go to secondary school, then to university in Costa Rica, becoming the first person in her village to leave her family to study abroad.
She is now one of two core trainers in the CAMFED Agriculture Guide programme, showing young women from poor rural backgrounds how to apply innovative and Indigenous farming techniques to help them adapt to and fight climate change.
So far, Divasoni and her partner have trained 320 Agriculture Guides across several districts, and these new trainees are now cascading their knowledge to other women across the country.
They focus on women because they are often the first to feel the effect of climate change as they work the land and feed their families.
In many parts of Asia and Africa, women make up 60 percent of the agricultural labor force, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).