Smart farming: Promoting climate resilience through policy

Three policies have been launched in Zimbabwe to increase awareness of climate-smart farming techniques, and promote climate-friendly practices among young people.

In Zimbabwe, brothers Prosper and Prince Chikwara are using precision farming techniques at their horticulture farm, as promoted through a new CSA Policy © Busani Bafana

To increase Zimbabwe’s resistance to climate pressures and help the country meet international carbon-cutting pledges, a trio of climate policies were launched in June 2018. The Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) Policy focuses on ensuring that farmers adopt climate-hardy farming practices, while the National Climate Policy aims to guide businesses on becoming greener. A Child Friendly Climate Policy has also been developed to educate school children about climate-friendly practices, such as the protection of forests and wetlands.

In a country plagued by low rainfall, poor soils and high temperatures, young Zimbabwean farmers are turning to precision agriculture techniques in order to set up successful agribusinesses. Precision agriculture involves more accurate and controlled cultivation of crops and livestock, and is one of the farming approaches being promoted by Zimbabwe’s CSA Policy.

Already adopting this approach are brothers Prosper and Prince Chikwara, who operate a horticulture farm 20 km outside of Bulawayo city. The young farmers have implemented techniques such as soil mapping using geographical information systems and drip irrigation. “After we introduced technology, we increased our production and income by 30%,” says Prosper, who also explains that the farm is using hybrid seeds to grow cabbages, sweet peppers, onions and oilseed rape.

Development of the National Climate Policy is expected to motivate Zimbabwe’s industries to invest in low-carbon development. For example, one of the country’s international financial services group, Old Mutual, is already investing in climate-smart technologies, such as solar panels, to move away from fossil fuels and generate at least 50 MW of energy in Gwanda and Chipinge towns under a multi-million-dollar investment.

Another output of the National Climate Policy is a CSA manual, which has been developed to improve agricultural education at colleges and among extension workers all over the country. The CSA manual recommends climate-smart farming techniques, such as intercropping, crop rotation and integrated crop-livestock management. “Farmers will have knowledge of climate-smart farming and through the National Climate Policy, measures will be taken for everyone to become more climate resilient,” says Tatenda Mutasa, climate change scientist at the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate.

Busani Bafana

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.