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Food security everywhere everyday

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UNPREDICTABLE climatic conditions, induced by EL Nino, are the strongest drivers impacting agricultural production in Zimbabwe and the rest of Southern Africa. 

A recent report by Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) concurs that, due to EL Nino, rainfall deficits will likely result in below average 2023 and 2024 harvests. 

This means EL Nino will drive high needs across Southern Africa through early 2025.

It is important to note that EL Nino is characterised by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific.

EL Nino brings droughts and these droughts threaten water supply and agriculture which depend on water.

Despite most parts of the country receiving rains this festive period, the Meteorological Service Department (MSD) has already issued a warning that this season will receive normal-to-below normal rainfall in most parts of the country while others will receive below normal rainfall. 

Farmers should take note that climate change or conditions know no boundaries, therefore, there is need for adaptation methods that ensure better livelihoods. 

Speaking at an event held in Harare recently, Professor Obert Jiri — Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development — stressed on the importance of resilience programmes that ensure sustainability.

Sustainable agriculture opens opportunities for farmers to practise agriculture using and prioritising available resources which are natural and renewable.

Not only do farmers protect the environment, sustainable agriculture also maintains soil fertility and expand the natural resources base.

Professor Jiri said that though many countries, including Zimbabwe, are being affected by climate change, there are other factors, such as conflicts everywhere, which affect us.

“This includes the unrest in Eastern Europe which affects what we do,” he said. 

“Today we talk of fertiliser products, food and fuel prices that went up.” 

Professor Jiri also stressed the need for communities to innovate and do things differently so that supply chains are not disturbed or disrupted. 

Without doubt, for Zimbabwe to return to its status of being the bread basket of Africa, there is need for massive innovation.

In his speech, Professor Jiri talked about the role of development partners and how they should focus on changing livelihoods as their main agenda. 

In a normal set-up that has proper development goals, livelihoods are changed through building resilience.

As a result of climate change and EL Nino, Prof Jiri advised farmers and scientists that this season is a litmus test.

It is a litmus test because, no matter what the weather patterns bring, communities must be able to still survive and stakeholders must pull in one direction.

“Communities must survive. Therefore, resilience becomes very important because resilience programming defines sustainability of any programme,” said Prof Jiri.

“Our programming, as Government, is that we try to involve everyone. In the past few years you have seen the private sector being consulted.”

We meet with people from the dairy sector, cotton sector; we meet the women and the youth to try and define as well as come up with programming that is all inclusive and that drives the country’s agenda, said Prof Jiri,.

What then is the country’s agenda?

The country’s agenda is to make Zimbabwe an upper- middle income economy by 2030.

An upper-middle income economy is achieved through having a stable food security:“As Government, we came as an important stakeholder, defining where we must go and I’m telling you today, the Government is interested in ensuring food security everywhere, everyday,” said Prof Jiri.

The Government is leading in the drive to ensuring food security in the country by starting from household level through the Pfumvudza/Intwasa Programme.

In the agenda, the Government is saying every household must be able to climate proof at that level.

Climate proofing at household level entails planting cereals and legumes, depending on the agro-ecological region.

Here, the concept of crop resilience comes into play as varieties of crops are planted in their respective ecological regions.

The second level which the Government is climate proofing is on a large scale in which irrigation systems are developed up to the scale when production in the country should not be defined by rainfall. 

“We should be talking about robust agriculture system which knows no weather,” said Prof Jiri. 

“We must fully utilise Tugwi-Mukosi, Muchekeranwa, Lake Kariba and Kunzvi Dam while developing other dams as well to make sure we climate proof our production through irrigation.”

It is through such initiatives that hunger in Zimbabwe can be eliminated; but all this can be made possible through ensuring rural development and rural industrialisation.

Rural development and rural industrialisation is very essential in that it eliminates rural to urban migration.

It also paves way for communities to embrace their resources and develop on their own.

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