The power of adaptation, innovation in face of adversity

29 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
The power of adaptation, innovation in face of adversity Government, in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Green Climate Fund, are intervening to give distraught farmers a ray of hope

The ManicaPost

 

Tendai Gukutikwa
Post Reporter

BEFORE the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai, Mrs Sarah Kubikwa (49) was a struggling maize farmer just like others in her community.

Her region’s proneness to adverse weather conditions, and the changing climate posed challenges to their agricultural endeavours.

It demanded a shift towards growing traditional grains — a transition the farmers found discouraging, given their addiction to maize.

Cyclone Idai unleashed her fury and left a trail of destruction in Chimanimani, Chipinge and Buhera — which is Mrs Kubikwa’s home district.

Mr Vhuma Nyama’s story also mirrors her story, having toiled tirelessly for years trying to grow maize in an agro-ecological region better suited for traditional grains.

For all his sweat, Mr Nyama faced consistent disappointment.

Maize crop gave him very little harvest.

Buhera District lies in agro-ecological regions five — the driest and drought-prone in the country.

The farmers are grappling with the harsh realities of having their crops destroyed by harsh climatic conditions before reaching maturity.

As a result, Government in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Green Climate Fund have intervened, giving the distraught farmers a ray of hope.

About 12 automated weather stations, nine automated rain gauges and five hydrological water gauges were set in Manicaland and Masvingo provinces with a view to assist farmers with information on when to plant to ensure maximised production.

Through the Climate Resilient Livelihoods (CRL) initiative, farmers like Mrs Kubikwa and Mr Nyama have found a lifeline.

They are guaranteed access to tailored training, resources and support which enable them to explore alternative farming practices better suited for their respective areas.

Last year, 9 983 farmers in Manicaland, and 8 120 in Masvingo were successfully equipped with crucial weather and climate information.

The initiative started from 2020 to 2027.

Mrs Kubikwa recently told The Manica Post that the interventions helped her community in transitioning smoothly, backed by reliable and up-to-date weather information.

“Access to accurate weather and climate information has improved our approach to farming as a community. Prior to this vital information, we were at the mercy of climate change.

‘‘We never knew when and what to plant and harvest or how to prepare for impending disasters like storms or droughts. Now we are armed with timely and accurate data, which has enabled us to make informed decisions that have significantly and positively impacted on our farming practices,” she said.

Mrs Kubikwa said the understanding of weather patterns and climate trends in specific region allows farmers to plan and strategise effectively.

“We no longer waste resources on crops that are ill-suited for our area. Instead, we have chosen a more resilient crop,” she said.

They are now producing sorghum and cowpeas, which are more appropriate for drier region.

“We are no longer maize farmers, but specialising in traditional grains like cowpeas and sorghum, which tend to do well here,” she said.

Mr Nyama said there is a sharp resurgence of traditional grains seed multiplication since the introduction of the project in their region.

Mr Nyama is one of the farmers who were trained in seed multiplication — a process of increasing the quantity of seed available for planting.

He said the process is part of the agricultural heritage that fosters hope for a sustainable future.

“We are now relying on seed multiplication as an important part of our farming practices. We found that hybrid seed being sold by seed companies do not do well in our regions, and are excited after successfully multiplying our locally available and resilient seed with way better yields,” said Mr Nyama.

Currently, Mr Nyama is multiplying sorghum seed at his 0.7-hectare piece of land.

From a 5kg SV4 variety bag, he is expecting a tonne of seed that will be sold to other farmers next season.

Acting Communications and Advocacy Director in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Mrs Barbra Machekano said Government and its partners are actively working towards bolstering the resilience of smallholder farmers in drier regions through such initiatives.

Mrs Machekano said the partnership exemplifies a commitment to sustainable development and inclusive growth, prioritising the welfare of rural populations.

“Such collaborative endeavours serve as a testament to the importance of concerted action in addressing pressing socio-economic issues, particularly in regions heavily reliant on agriculture for livelihoods.

“As climate change continues to pose significant challenges to agricultural productivity, initiatives like these are paramount in building adaptive capacity and ensuring the long-term sustainability of rural communities,” she said.

UNDP communications associate, Mr Anesu Freddy said the initiative underscores a pivotal step in addressing agricultural challenges faced by rural communities.

He said they trained Agritex officers on seed production management, who in turn trained farmers on seed multiplication.

“We are working together with the Meteorological Services Department because we found out that by providing direct access to pertinent weather forecasts and climate insights, we will be making sure that farmers are better equipped to make informed decisions regarding their agricultural practices.

“This proactive approach, not only enhances productivity, but also strengthens the overall resilience of these farmers against climate-related adversities. We have also established 230 farmer field schools across the provinces, with 6 900 farmers benefiting directly from the schools,” he said.

The success stories of Mrs Kubikwa and Mr Nyama serve as inspiration for fellow farmers, demonstrating the transformative power of adaptation and innovation in the face of adversity.

The bountiful harvest, not only secure their own livelihoods, but contribute to the food security and resilience of the community.

 

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