By Rutendo Mapfumo
National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) owned high density suburb, Railton in Hwange has embraced
the introduction of hydroponic farming as a way of coping with food insecurity.
Hydroponics farming is a type of smart farming which is horticulture and a subset of hydroculture
which involves growing crops without soil and also by using water-based mineral nutrient solutions
in aqueous solvents.
Railton is known for water scarcity. In more than 12 years the residents had no running water from
taps and more than 10 months without electricity. The residents, including young women found it
difficult to have another way of making a living, amidst COVID -19.
“Our taps were dry, no electricity, we did not have any other way of bringing food to the table for
our families, I was a hard time. We wanted to do gardening. But, because of water scarcity, there
was no starting point,” said Loveness Maphosa from Railton suburbs.
“I had lost my job in the hospitality industry, I did not have another way of providing for my family,
rather I was just waiting for a miracle to happen” she continued.
According to the 2021 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVac) report coordinated
by the Food and Nutrition Council, hunger in Zimbabwe urban areas increased over the past year
with 2.4 million who are struggling to meet the basic food needs.
During the height of COVID -19 in 2020, nearly 83 percent of urban households struggled to buy the
food they need for the family compared to 76.8 in 2019.
Fidelis Chima the Coordinator of Greater Hwange Residents Trust indicated that Railton urban area
was the most affected by the socio-economic effects of COVID 19 compared to other urban areas in
“Already Railton suburbs had a number of problems on their plate, the coming of COVID-19 was like
being stabbed by double edged sword for Railton residents. But thanks to Hydroponic farming which
was introduced by World Vision International,” he said.
World Vision Disaster Risk Reduction and Food Assistant Manager coordinating Zimbabwe, Luckson
Ncube indicated that, Railton community was put under the Urban resilience Programme which
sought to assist the beneficiaries to start up livelihood projects as groups.
“There were a number of COVID19 related impacts. Different resilience building activities were
identified in a participatory process where the beneficiaries identified what activities they would like
to be supported on and these including poultry, detergent making and the hydroponic farming. The
Railton community chose Hydroponic farming,” he said.
Hydroponic uses low amounts of water, it saves water by about 80 percent compared to normal soil
based farming, crops grow faster and increase the cycles of income.
“With hydroponic farming, farmers have crops with adequate nutrition through the use of organic
fertilizer, there is access to nutritious food and vegetables and resultant reduction of malnutrition.
The cultivation of cash crops will increase household incomes and purchasing power and enable
vulnerable urban community to meet household’s needs” said Ncube
“With the introduction of hydroponic farming, our lives have changed. Boreholes have been drilled
and with the limited access of borehole water, we are able to bring food to the table for our families.
It was indeed tough at first but we are making it,” said Minenhle Moyo, one of the farmers at Railton