Sunday, July 6, 2014

Climate change adaptation strategies for Zimbabwe's smallholder agriculture vital

Byron Mutingwende in News Day (Zimbabwe):  CARE International Zimbabwe says smallholder farmers will not survive unless they conform to changes in climatic conditions. The organisation believes there is need for various stakeholders to participate in building the resilience of their communities.

Taringana Makiwa, a Chivi rural district agricultural extension officer, said it was imperative for communities to know about the drastic climatic changes in order for them to adequately prepare for their planting seasons.

“It is essential for farmers to know about the amount of rainfall expected during a particular year, whether or not there will be thunderstorms, lightning, flood, hail or frost so they can take preventative measures,” Makiwa said. “Information on temperature trends and disease outbreaks will also inform the farmer on whether to plant crops or wait until pesticides are available or when the weather is good.” Makiwa said lack of such information leads to a low yield or destruction of a crop.

There are several options for adaptation and mitigation to climate change. These include capacitating the Meteorological services department with human and capital resources, training of extension staff and farmers in relevant forecast interpretation skills and soil and water conservation works.

“Contour construction, infiltration pits in the fields, afforestation through planting of vativa grass as windbreaks and construction of sand traps are very crucial,” Edmore Matsavi, CARE International Zimbabwe engineer for Masvingo Province said. Matsavi said there was need to create awareness on conservation works and weather hazards. He called for the efficient utilisation of water resources to combat climate change.

...“The Meteorological Services Department should partner with developmental organisations and Agritex in climate change adaptation programmes and research on indigenous knowledge systems and how it can be linked with climate science. There is also need for weather insurance schemes.”...

A Shona farm in Zimbabwe, shot by Ulamm, public domain

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