‘Green house farming, a climate resilient initiative’

Ashton Mutyavaviri

IN line with Government’s growing calls for the private sector to actively participate in agricultural production, a Harare company, Total Farm Solutions, has taken the initiative to promote the use of greenhouses, as a way of climate-proofing production to improve yields and ultimately food security.

Total Farm Solutions director, Mr Tapiwa Mugabe yesterday challenged farmers to embrace the greenhouse farming initiative and make use of its controlled growing conditions and capacity to boost yields and ensure food security in the face of unpredictable weather patterns.

“Under greenhouse farming, farmers can mitigate risks of climate change through a number of ways, which includes the greenhouse plastic that provides cover from the vagaries of weather. When the weather gets extremely cold and frosty, crops are protected because the greenhouse provides the right temperatures,” he added.

The effects of climate change that include irregular rainfall patterns, prolonged droughts and extreme temperatures have significantly affected the Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector. Traditional farming methods have become increasingly vulnerable to these climatic challenges, leading to reduced yields and food shortages.

Mr Mugabe said one major advantage of greenhouse farming was the ability to control the environment in which the crops are grown.

In the wake of climate change, weather patterns have become extreme and unpredictable posing a serious threat to crop production.

Added Mr Mugabe: “Farmers must turn to greenhouse farming as a viable alternative. It provides controlled environments that shield crops from adverse weather conditions and allows for optimal production throughout the year. By regulating temperature, humidity and light, greenhouse farmers can create favourable conditions for plants enabling them to thrive regardless of external factors.”A properly constructed greenhouse provides key features, which make greenhouse management profitable, he said.

“The features are customised to the region and the type of crop under production. Key features include ventilation systems, which is ideal for humidity levels and temperature control. Crops have different tolerances to different humidity levels and various temperatures.

“Greenhouses can be installed with various systems of climate control. The systems include fogging systems pad and fans or even heating elements designed to achieve a particular growing environment for the crops,” he said.

With the advancement of technology in agriculture, farmers can also do hydroponic farming, which excludes the use of soil in growing crops. The major advantage is that soil related issues (such as soil pests, diseases and rotation) are eliminated. Hydroponic production in a greenhouse also increases yields and profitability in the long run, explained Mr Mugabe.

“As we are expecting erratic rainfall this upcoming season, greenhouse farming helps to conserve water by reducing evaporation and enabling efficient irrigation systems. Through the use of drip irrigation and any other water saving-techniques, farmers can ensure that crops receive adequate moisture without wastages, leading to improved water resource management.  Drip irrigation systems can also bring in the fertigation system that enables the application of nutrients at the right time and place. Incidences of leaching are thus minimal in the greenhouse,” said Mr Mugabe.




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