Traditional leaders support  Govt’s small grains initiative New shops in town . . . A woman waits for customers at a car with clothes and shoes on display, near Mupedzanhamo in Mbare, Harare, last week — Pictures: Kudakwashe Hunda

Nesia Mhaka, Correspondent

In its quest to alleviate hunger and food shortages, the Government has engaged traditional leaders and urged them to challenge their communities to grow drought-resistant crops and short-season varieties to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The rapid pace at which climate change is taking place, combined with the increase in the global population and slow income growth, threatens food security.

Agriculture has proved to be extremely vulnerable to climate change as seen by the decline in food production over the past two decades.

a man walks past a car covered by handbags on sale near Mupedzanhamo in Mbare, Harare, last week — Pictures: Kudakwashe Hunda

High temperatures that are being experienced in most parts of the globe will eventually reduce yields of desirable crops, while encouraging weed and pest proliferation.

In May 2018, the Government of Zimbabwe successfully mobilised a US$3 million grant from the Green Climate Fund to create an enabling environment for climate change adaptation in Zimbabwe.

The funds are being channelled through a project called Building Capacity to Advance National Adaptation Planning Process in Zimbabwe 2019-2021, which is being carried out by the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry.

Speaking at the mainstreaming meeting on climate change adaptation and mitigation in Mashonaland Central Province last week, Chief Kandeya (Mr Petros Kamuviri) of Mt Darwin said farmers should take the changes in weather patterns seriously and shift towards drought-tolerant crop varieties.

“We are taking every opportunity to tell farmers in our communities to prioritise the growing of drought-resistant crop varieties, small grains and early maturing maize varieties.

“The rains are no longer reliable as they were in the past. They continue to be scarce every season. I urge all farmers in the country to focus more on short season seed varieties,” he said.

He added that the knowledge and skills empowering programmes offered by the Government to farmers have to yield a positive result.

Mr Maxwell Dzapasi,a traditional leader in Muzarabani, urged farmers to work with agricultural extension officers for advice on how to produce more with low rainfall.

“Our communities are growing. The population is also growing, meaning we must be prepared to produce more food for the people, despite the changing climatic conditions.

“Farmers now need to adapt and to alleviate the effects of climate change. This season, we want to ensure our farmers work closely with their extension workers and input suppliers so that they buy the appropriate type of seed, which can withstand drought,” he said.

Chief Chipuriro (Mr Clever Mashiki) of Guruve also encouraged farmers to start implementing irrigation development on their farms or plots and to plant small grains, which he said were able to adapt to the dry season conditions.

“I urge farmers who are able to begin to implement irrigation development on their farms and to try to plant small grains, which are drought-resistant compared to other varieties.

“This will help in maintaining their yield targets even if there is low rainfall,” he said.

Speaking during the same event, Climate Change Department acting director Mr Tirivanhu Muhwati said in the context of unprecedented climate change and food insecurity, adaptation in agriculture systems was of paramount importance.

“The increase in greenhouse gas emissions is raising the earth’s temperature and the consequences include varying precipitation, extreme weather events (droughts and floods) and shifting of seasons. Climate change scenarios show a drying trend and, as a result, adaptation in the agricultural sector should focus on strategies to conserve moisture, promotion of conservation agriculture, improved short-season seed varieties and increased use of drought-resistant small grains is a key strategy,” he said.

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