By Pamenus Tuso
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has started assisting farmers in some drought prone areas in Masvingo and Midlands provinces to adapt to climate change by building climate –smart villagers.
(ICRISAT) which is based at Matopos research station in Zimbabwe is a non-profit making organisation that conducts agricultural research for development in the dry lands of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The organisation headquartered in India, also helps empower disadvantaged people to overcome poverty, hunger and a degraded environment through better agriculture practices.
In an interview, ICRASAT Zimbabwe Country representative, Dr. Kizito Mazvimavi, said following the successful establishment of the inaugural climate – smart village in Chief Shana’s area in Jambezi in Matebeleland North, the organisation has expanded the programme to Mwenezi, Chiredzi, Gokwe South and Kwekwe.
“Through the Zimbabwe Resilient Building fund project, we are adopting the Jambezi climate –smart village model in Mwenezi and Chiredzi. We are also hoping to be going to Zvishavane and Mberengwa as well,” said Dr Mazvimavi.
Dr Mazvimavi pointed out that the thrust of the climate –smart villages is to equip farmers to use climate –smart scientific interventions and innovations, use climate information for cropping decisions, rehabilitate and restore their environment and influence policy makers.
“Basically these villages are learning centres for local communities. We want climate smart information from these centres to cascade to other neighbouring communities so that they will be able to respond to climate variability,” said Dr Mazvimavi.
The development of the climate –smart villages starts with a stakeholder’s participatory diagnosis using a toolkit for planning, monitoring and evaluation on climate change adaptive capacities. Once this is done, experts are able to test different technologies based on the climate information available so that farmers are well prepared for the coming season.
Dr Mazvimavi said the building of climate-smart villages is anchored on five strategic pillars which include watershed management approach, meteorological approach, agriculture and digital technologies approach, futuristic multi-model approach and the committee for early weather warning.
He added that the water management approach which focuses on rehabilitating agro ecosystems has resulted in increasing crop yields and incomes of farmers in the areas where the concept has been practised. The futuristic multi-model approach uses computer simulated scenarios to give policy makers the climate scenario of up to the year 2050.
“This approach has resulted in the government‘s renewed support for promoting dry land cereals –sorghum and millet as well as greater support for groundnut value chains,” added Dr Mazvimavi.