ZIMSOFF, made up of committed farmers practicing Agro-ecology and who have been struggling with this issue for nearly 20 years is ideally placed to lead and facilitate this process. The way the process is carried out will get buy-in from the diversity of stakeholders who participate. ZIMSOFF will develop a simple set of principles to guide the process, recognizing that how it is done will have a large bearing on how effective it is in future.
This is where ZIMSOFF will make a significant shift during this phase though it is not clear at this stage exactly how this will work out. The shift will be that ZIMSOFF will focus on facilitating the development of a farmer-led movement for Agro-ecology and food sovereignty in Zimbabwe. The difference is that ZIMSOFF will stop trying to be a farmers’ union made up of subscription paying members. The aim is to find a different kind of structure that works. This could, for example, be hinged around District level organisations. But also the point is that the way the structure is set up needs to allow for flexibility and differences. It is clear that there are various initiatives of farmers and others around the country. Each initiative is different and has its own unique set up and history. ZIMSOFF has tried to set up a standardized structure that just hasn’t worked properly to date. Such a structure could possibly work sometime in the future when ZIMSOFF is very strong and well established.
The ‘national movement’ structure will be set up in such a way that it will be able to accommodate the different initiatives that spring up around the country.
This process to set up a national movement will start with a comprehensive study of what is existing now, who can potentially be part of this movement, what are they doing, what do people think about the movement, what advice and experience do people have, what experiences from elsewhere can ZIMSOFF draw on, and so on? This study will feed into a meeting of a wide range of stakeholders who will then chart the way forward.