By Watmore Makokoba
Zimbabwean famers, especially those in drought prone areas, are no longer waiting for the worst before making efforts to cope with the devastating effects of climate change.
Instead, they are employing simple environmentally friendly innovations and initiatives that are producing food secure communities.
For Jonah Chimusoro, a smallholder farmer based in Beatrice, about 60 kilometers south of Harare, the tortoise pace at which government is implementing the climate change action strategy, is not of much concern to him and his community.
Through applying integrated conservation agriculture principles , organic food and small livestock production as well as green energy for all his farm energy needs, Chimusoro is not only producing enough healthy food for his family, but for the surrounding villages as well.
His initiatives resonate well with the ‘paying for your climate’ initiative which speaks to coming up with local, simple initiatives – no matter how small – in building resilience and mitigating climate change.
Chimusoro cultivates crops and vegetables using minimum to zero chemicals and artificial fertilisers and water conserving and environmental friendly methods.
“Our family plot has been converted into an integrated 100% green farm where nothing goes to waste. Pig and cattle waste produce clean energy in the form of biogas, which we use for lighting and powering farm implements. Slurry from the bio-digesters is used as fertiliser for the crops and vegetables,” says Chimusoro.
Chicken waste feeds the fish in a 100, 000 ml tank from where tilapia breed rapidly. In turn, the tilapia provides manure for herbal and vegetable gardens on the farm.
Fish, especially the tilapia, is known for its massive reproduction. Millions of the small fish harvested regularly from the pond and are also a delicacy for the pigs.
“We engage in organic farming. Pests are controlled through using pest repelling herbs instead of using toxic chemicals. We keep a variety of small livestock, from road-runner chickens, turkeys, rabbits and goats.
“We also cross-breed broiler chickens with traditional road-runner chickens. Small grains are an essential crop here as they not only ensure steady food supply for us, but also feeds the chickens,” says Chimusoro.
Indeed at Engineer Chimusoro’s farm nothing goes to waste
Through employing these simple methods, smallholder famers are fighting drought induced food shortages and fostering food security and nutritional balance.
Smallholder famers located in the drier parts of Binga said they have since shifted to growing traditional small grains such as sorghum , millet and cowpeas which are drought resistant ,healthier and produced in a climate smart and sustainable way.
Makesize Munenge, from Binga in Ward 5, says due to little rainfall in the region, he has since shifted from growing maize to small grains which have not only ensured food security, but are also a cash crop.
“We are now growing small grains such as sorghum and sesame. This has helped us a lot in our drought prone area. Although we were used to growing maize, the current unreliable rainfall patterns can no longer sustain the crop,” says Munenge.
Josephine Mkuli from Skalenge Ward 6 in the same district, grows drought resistant rosella and millet and uses the money she gets from selling the crops for other projects such as rearing small livestock.
Munenge and Mkuli are members of the Zimbabwe Organic Producers and Promoters Association Trust (ZOPPA Trust). ZOPPA Trust brings together organic producers, promoters and processors for the development of the organic agriculture sector in Zimbabwe.
The emergence and rapid popularisation of conservation agriculture and organic farming, marks the emergence of a new sustainable farming era which is in line with the Paris Agreement whose resolutions are aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change, building resilience and adaptive measures to changing weather patterns.