FARM productivity is expected to drop by five percent by 2050 due to the effects of climate change, the head of Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) Zimbabwe, Annabel Gerry, has said.
Gerry said this as she announced a fresh £21,5 million ($30 million) grant for the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF). “It is estimated that farm productivity in Zimbabwe will drop by five percent by 2050 as a result of climate change. It is already lower than its neighbours and we can’t afford any more slippage.
“Without adapting, poverty, food insecurity, malnutrition and environmental degradation will continue to be serious challenges, particularly in rural areas. This will compound existing difficulties for the estimated one million Zimbabweans who are chronically food insecure,” Gerry said.
DFID contributed £3,5 million ($4,9 million) to the first phase of the ZRBF, which ended in October, 2017.
About 70 percent of Zimbabweans live in rural areas and 80 percent of them are dependent on rain-fed agriculture, making them highly vulnerable to climate change and shocks.
The project intends to build resilience in 18 districts of the country highly affected by climatic conditions. It is expected to assist 830 000 people.
The ZRBF is a five-year, multi-donor facility managed by the UNDP in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, and Rural Settlement. Other partners are the ministries of Water, Environment and Climate; Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare; Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and the Food and Nutrition Council. It ends in 2021.
“The ZRBF specifically targets women and aims to tackle gender inequality and, of the 830 000 people affected, at least 25 percent of direct beneficiaries are from female headed households,” Gerry said.
More than 24 000 farmers and extension staff have been trained in various aspects of resilience like adoption of climate smart agriculture practices and technologies that fight threats like the fall armyworm.
Lands, Agriculture, and Rural Resettlement ministry principal director for economics and markets, Clemence Bwenje, said government was pleased with the fund’s focus on productivity.
“We are very happy that this grant will help achieve improved productivity, increased market linkages, better management of natural resources, improved household and communities’ capacities to withstand shocks and stress,” Bwenje said.
Zimbabwe’s maize yields per hectare have, over the years, fallen below levels needed to stimulate economic transformation and poverty reduction.
Maize yields dropped from an average 1,2 tonnes per hectare between 1990 and 1995 to an average of 0,749 tonnes per hectare between 2010 and 2016.
Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of the region, now lags behind neighbours Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa in terms of yields.
Despite input support programmes, rural poverty has remained high, with 84,3 percent of the people living below the poverty line.