Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
Government is improving planning, early warning and climate change management systems to cushion small holder farmers from extreme weather events and boost production to necessitate national food security, a senior Government official has said.
Already, Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement is promoting production of drought tolerant crops and rehabilitating dams and irrigation schemes.
The tobacco sector is promoting the planting of trees for tobacco curing and the use of energy saving barns to reduce the cutting down of trees for fuel, while the Rural Electrification Fund (REF) is also training biogas digester builders in all the eight rural provinces to enable villagers to access clean, affordable and environmentally friendly energy source.
Government’s economic blueprint, the Transitional Stabilisation Programme, presents quick-win investment opportunities for realisation of self-sufficiency and food surpluses that will see the re-emergence of Zimbabwe as a major contributor to agricultural production and regional food security in the Southern Africa region and beyond.
Officiating at a climate workshop organised by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement; Department of Climate Change, Zimbabwe Farmers Union, Ruzivo Trust and the Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA-ACP-EU), Deputy Minister Douglas Karoro said Government is investing in assisting farmers in climate change resilience.
Deputy Minister Karoro said the transformation of small holder agriculture was necessary in view of climate change, recent droughts and tropical cyclones.
“Recent disasters such as Cyclone Idai, which ravaged parts of Zimbabwe early this year, recurrent flooding in Chiredzi and Muzarabani as well as numerous reports of destruction of property and crops by strong winds in places such as Hurungwe, emphasise the urgent need for better planning method, early warning and climate management.
“This includes the need for a robust climate early warning system that includes the effective seasonal climate forecasting and dissemination to users such as farmers,” he said.
He said forecasting and dissemination of intra-seasonal weather conditions was important as well as allocating resources and preparing for short term evacuations, resettlement of vulnerable communities, resilience planning and taking national insurance against climate vagaries.
Deputy Minister Karoro said technology, including knowledge on climate smart agriculture practices, sufficient access to well organised markets and financial services, improving rural infrastructure, farmers’ access to information and promotion of product value addition would help farmers to boost income and adaptive capacities.
“Infrastructure such as road networks for market linkages, dams for water supply and irrigation infrastructure cushion farmers from erratic rains, empowers smallholder farmers and links them to other critical services.
“Climate-induced extremes experienced in this country over the past five years undermine the ability of farmers, ecosystems and Government to cope and recover as they placed enormous pressure on livelihoods and the economy.
“This emphasises the need for climate negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,” he said.
“Zimbabwe has nominated institutions to facilitate the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) implementation. These critical focal points include, the green climate fund, climate technology centre and global environmental facility.
“The country has applied for various funds and technical assistance to capacitate Zimbabwe to manage climate change.”
Government has come up with different initiatives to come up with climate adaptation measures.
Under the REF biogas programme, which is set to train about 60 builders at a cost of $90 000, each of the eight provincial offices will identify a volunteer who is able to procure materials such as bricks, a stove and pipes to benefit from the pilot project.
The idea to roll out renewable energy like solar and biogas is meant to complement grid electricity and ensure that REF meets the TSP target of providing access to energy to 60 percent of the people who live in the rural areas of Zimbabwe by 2030.