Farmers should embrace Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) to boost agricultural production and overcome poverty, the Minister of Environment, Water and Climate, Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, has said.
Minister Kasukuwere said this while officiating at the Makoni Organic Farmers Association (MOFA) Equator Initiative Award ceremony held at Chiundu High School in Rusape last Friday.
The association was awarded the UNDP Global Equator Prize for 2014 during a ceremony held in Lincoln Centre in New York in September last year.
The Equator Prize is awarded biennially to recognise and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.
Cde Kasukuwere said indigenous people had their peculiar knowledge systems that conserved the environment.
“We had our own traditional values and norms that guided us in preserving natural resources. These should have been documented for use by the future generation.
“If we rely on our IKS, we will never go wrong, we should research and record the indigenous knowledge,” he said.
Cde Kasukuwere said people should learn from the elderly people and follow their ways.
“If we can embrace and scale up initiatives such as organic farming and other sustainable environmental management activities, this will lead to building resilience in vulnerable communities and promote sustainable development,” he said.
He commended the Makoni organic association for using organic methods in crop production as this was healthy and cheaper since the method relied on locally available resources.
“This is a clean way of producing food. Some of the chemicals used in crop production have detrimental effects on human health.
“I urge you to protect the rivers and forests and diversify your operations. You have a reliable water source and you should diversify into fish production to increase income,” he said.
UNDP Resident Representative Mr Bishow Parajuli emphasised MOFA’s contribution to sustainable development through community empowerment and participation, environmental sustainability, gender and health mainstreaming as well as inclusive participation by youth and local communities.
“This is in line with the new UNDP Strategic Plan that stresses the need to find ways of fighting poverty and inequality, deepening inclusion and reducing conflict, without inflicting irreversible damage on environmental systems, including the climate, ” he said.
MOFA chairperson Mrs Tamari Chipanga said the lives of the farmers in the area had greatly improved due to the project of organic farming.
“We rely on natural resources and produce healthy foods for our families. We used to have kitchen gardens but we have increased production and we are now supplying local markets with our produce.
“We have plenty of water but we have a challenge of harnessing it,” she said.