New Farming Practices Key To Mitigate Climate Change Impacts

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The SADC region is already experiencing the impacts of climate change that led to a decline in crop yield and shifts in ploughing periods, which calls for consideration of new practices approaches including the use of unique crop varieties.

Recently regional/global actors who noted the low rainfall which has been experienced in the region, which is expected to result in a shortage of food lead to shortage of food following poor crop performance.

However, this phenomenon is not a surprise because this was forecasted last year as resulted by the El-Nino phenomenon.

This was said by The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme ex-Pillar 4 (CAADP-XP4) Coordinator Dr Baitsi Podisi during the Women and Youth in Agriculture Knowledge Sharing and Exchange Symposium that was held in Kasane this week.

Podisi said they expect a harsher drought this time around that directly impact a lot on the livelihoods of people in the SADC region where the majority of the population in the region are small holder farmers. He noted that the small holder farmers do not have resources to bounce back following such an impact.

“We need to embrace new techniques and more investment because it is a reality that climate change is here with us, we might need to shift to crops which can do better in certain regions. Compared to the past, we should invest in research and development to evaluate the options that are out there for us and not second guess on what is happening to us,” he said.

He noted that there is a need to come up with climate change policies that would help mitigate the impacts in a holistic manner. He added that while in some instances there are shortages of rainfall for agriculture, some areas receive excessive floods which wash away crop fields and destroy infrastructure.

He called for the development of infrastructure that would cater for extreme weather changes that may result in flooding. Podisi stated that where there is extreme heat there is a need to find more economical ways of utilising the available moisture.

“Having a culture of moisture conservation is very critical for crop production. Our region generally has been failing to produce enough food to feed itself, not because of climate change, this is going to become worse with climate change,” he said.

He expressed that they have been promoting Climate Smart Agriculture which is a real different approach that can enable producers to maximise on the use of available moisture to harvest water smartly, to preserve moisture through different practices, and to use draught tolerant varieties that can do well in the region.

Director of Tuzini Farms which is located in Zambia Maria Zaloumis said that monitoring the weather every day is critical in tackling climate change, making sure the timing is correct according to the weather.  She said that they use different strategies and methods like tree planting, water harvesting, planting drought resistant and planting early.

A Zambian young farmer Maanda Sianga said that climate change has affected production due to the low rainfall experienced during the past season. She stated that the only way to get through the drought is to plant different seed varieties and to encourage farmers to try growing resistant crops like maize and sorghum, and applying conservation farming practices.

The three days Women and Youth in Agriculture Knowledge Sharing and Exchange Symposium brought together farmers from Botswana, Eswatini, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The objective of the symposium was to provide a platform for the exchange of innovative practices and success stories, focusing on the sustainable use of indigenous seeds, the integration of traditional and modern farming practices, and the adoption of climate-smart agriculture and technology.

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