Stakeholders in unison call for mitigation of El Niño effects

Agriculture Reporter

FOLLOWING the recent El Niño  forecast for some Southern African countries, Zimbabwe included, stakeholders in agriculture have challenged farmers to be proactive and adequately prepare their irrigation facilities, intensify water harvesting, conserve and protect wetlands to mitigate the phenomenon’s harsh effects.

The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) has since indicated that the 2023/24 cropping season would be characterised with erratic and low rainfall patterns due to the El Niño  weather prompting all stakeholders to push for the adoption of measures that will lessen the impact of the impending climate challenge.

President Mnangagwa has since added his voice to the growing calls for stakeholders in the agriculture sector to be proactive and embrace seed and crop varieties that suit the country’s various agro-ecological regions.

“The party, working with our grassroots communities and stakeholders in the agriculture sector, must promote the uptake of seed varieties that suit our country’s different agro-ecological regions.

“Our revolution to sustain the already attained household and national food security and sovereignty will never stop,” he told Politburo members recently.

This comes as Government is also moving to revitalise irrigation schemes that are not performing to their full potential in a move that has seen the area under irrigation rising from 150 000ha in the recent past to the current 204 000ha. It is also preparing to launch the Adapt, Mitigate, Act (AMA) scheme to support the already existing conservation farming methods.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development permanent secretary Dr John Basera recently highlighted the need to eliminate poverty, hunger, malnutrition and improve livelihoods through the promotion of climate smart agriculture technologies including traditional grains.

“We need to climate-proof agriculture through the promotion of traditional grains. In our summer planning we have declared that regions 4 and 5 are only growing traditional grains for the coming season. We need seed houses and other financial players to recommend that in terms of crop suitability region 4 and 5 is not ideal for maize production although traditional grains can still perform well in regions 1 and 2,’’ he said.

Tobacco Farmers’ Union Trust president Mr Victor Mariranyika weighed in urging farmers to face the reality of climate change, saying it was critical to create water bodies to mitigate the effects of climate change and plant seed varieties that endure harsh climatic conditions.

“Water bodies such as dams and boreholes are critical because irrigation is a critical component in mitigating effects of climate changes. Climate change is there but collective efforts from all stakeholders is needed to sustain growth,’’ he said.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union (ZCFU) president Dr Shadreck Makombe urged farmers to prepare stock feed and food as well as to maintain good agronomic practices on the fields.

He added that reservoirs should be protected and preserved to ensure that no water is wasted.

“It is critical for farmers to follow good agronomic practices. Water should not be wasted. Traditional grains should also be prioritised because they are drought resistant. Farmers should look out for fall armyworms because the conditions may be conducive for the pest’s breeding,” he said.

Farmers also need to reduce livestock numbers by selling the less productive and buy food for the families and the remaining livestock units.

Zimbabwe Indigenous Women Farmers Association Trust Mrs Depinah Nkomo called on farmers to adopt staggered planting methods to ensure they spread risk.

Zimbabwe expects to receive normal to below normal rainfall with parts of the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces getting below normal rains for the beginning of the 2023/24 planting season, according to a preliminary weather forecast.

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