Zimbabwe Farmers' Union

Be a Climate Smart Agriculture Agent

22 Feb 2017

Wise farmers celebrate present successes not forgetting to plan against the threats of tomorrow.

Climate change is a global issue and other than just talking about it and crying over the negative effects it brings along, we can do something in our individual capacities that will have a collectively huge impact.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), defines climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) as “agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, enhances resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes Green House Gasses (GHGs) (mitigation) where possible, and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals”.

Therefore, the three pillars of CSA are, (I) Increasing production in a sustainable way, (ii) Enhancing adaptation and (iii) Reducing (GHGs).

As farmers, we have a major role to play in fulfilling the objectives of these pillars.

Practices like afforestation or agroforestry will go a long way in the adapting to climate change and to some extent mitigate the effects through reducing the carbon dioxide emissions.

If as farmers, we plant trees on our farms we do ourselves and mother earth a favour.

“It is a good agricultural practice to plant trees on farms because they play an important role in the farming business,” said ZFU Crop specialist Simba Muchena.

Trees like Acacia improve soil fertility through nitrogen fixation thus increasing crop production and productivity.

Other species like Luciana are very nutritious to livestock.

At the same time trees are carbon sinks, they take in excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The cutting down of trees without replacing them will increase the amount of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere resulting in high temperatures because carbon dioxide traps heat.

Increase in temperatures causes heat stress to both crops and livestock.

Additional contribution of trees to the climate ecosystem is through evapotranspiration, and with deforestation rainfall formation is disturbed.

This should be avoided at all cost, bearing in mind there is 1:1 ratio between rainfall received and yields attained.

“Planting trees is one of the climate smart practises that helps production in a sustainable way, enhancing our adaptation capacity and at the same time reducing carbon emissions, that’s climate smart,” said Simba Muchena.

The world population is expected to grow by an average of 100 million people annually for the next two decades.

95% of the growth is anticipated to occur in developing countries and therefore practising climate smart agriculture is a step in the right direction in assuring food security for the anticipated growing population.