Innocent Ruwende: Senior Reporter

Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has called for change in agricultural practices from conventional systems to climate-smart agriculture (CSA) which builds resilience and enhances national food security and sustainable development goals.Speaking at the country’s official side event at the 22nd Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakech, Morrocco last week, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said increasing populations present the world with a great challenge of food security given the effects of climate change on the agricultural sector.

“This is compounded by recurrence of droughts, high cost of production, degraded soils, undeveloped markets and rural to urban migration. Lack of funding to farmers, especially smallholders farmers and unavailability of lines of credit, have also undermined agricultural production in developing countries, especially Africa,” said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri.

“There is need to transform the agricultural practices from the conventional systems into climate smart agriculture practices that sustainably increase productivity, build resilience (adaptation), reduce/remove greenhouse gases (mitigation) and enhance achievement of national food security and sustainable development goals,” she said.

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said CSA was expected to contribute towards the achievement of climate change adaptation and mitigation goals presented in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change which entered into force on November 4, 2016.

The 2015-16 season was badly affected by the El Niño phenomenon which caused widespread drought in Southern African, with Zimbabwe alone having to import over 700 000 tonnes of maize to feed 2,4 million people.

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the Southern African region had started to “climate-smart” its agricultural practices, moving away from traditional rain-fed agriculture and putting more emphasis on irrigation schemes, drought-tolerant seeds and diversification of crops and livestock, among other techniques.

Southern African Confederation of African Unions chief executive Mr Ishamel Sunga said the international community should ensure that smallholder farmers do not just “survive”, but can transform their practices to “thrive” in spite of increasingly erratic weather patterns which threaten food security.

Source: The Herald