By Nudge Sustainability Reporter Trish Nyarumbu
Modern satellite data clearly shows that the climate is continually changing and that adverse events are more likely to happen, especially in Southern Africa. Although the climate records for Zimbabwe do not show specific trends in rainfall patterns, intensities and distribution (Unganai, 2009), an increase in the occurrence of extreme weather events, cyclones and droughts has been documented across the country (Mutasa, 2008).
Zimbabwe, compared to other African countries is highly vulnerable to climatic shocks in the world due to widespread poverty and limited coping strategies. Food issues in the country are at stake because farming is heavily depending on rain and climate sensitive resources. Irrigation facilities and accessories remain inaccessible to farmers especially smallholder farmers due to prohibitive costs. Farmers have been experiencing reduction in crop yield and worse; off complete crop failures in consecutive years. Hard-earned resources continue to go to waste. Food insecurity at household level becomes eminent and this comes with compounding problems such as malnutrition, susceptibility to disease, dismantling of families and increase in crime rates. Most communities end up depending on food aid, which is not guaranteed at times. Agriculture specialists need to keep abreast of such issues and continue to advice farmers appropriately especially promoting technologies within the farmers reach.
Some local communities practice conservation agriculture to safeguard their crops with the help of local NGOs and agriculture expects in the Ministry of Agriculture. Techniques include the use of manure (Figure 1), minimum tillage (Figure 2), mulching (Figure 3) and making contours in the fields to conserve soil moisture and prevent runoff. Although these methods have been used from time immemorial most Zimbabwean communities, they are currently facing resistance as farmers claim they are tedious. There is current research on methods to improve the methods to make them farmer friendly. Farmers are also being advised on cultivar selection and timeous establishment of their crops. The drip irrigation technique of irrigation is also being promoted for both horticultural and some field crops. This has also seen an increasing trend of players within the industry of sourcing and supplying the accessories. Zimbabwean farmers hope that with more interested parties drip irrigation systems will be affordable to many as it has the potential of making good use of little water resources.