By Wallace Mawire
Chimanimani, Zimbabwe– In the wake of climate change characterized by erratic, poor rainfall and rising temperatures impacting on food security and livelihoods, concerned stakeholders in Zimbabwe are promoting agroecology to combat climate change.
Non-Government organizations, farmers organizations and farmers in Zimbabwe are intensifying initiatives to promote agroecology as the impacts of climate change become more menacing
One such organization in Zimbabwe which is at the forefront of promoting and capacitating farmers, institutions, individuals and organizations through training on agro-ecological farming practices in the Participatory Ecological land Use Management (PELUM), a network of Civil Society Organizations/ NGOs working with Small-scale farmers in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa.
Since its establishment in 1995 as a country chapter of the PELUM Association, PELUM Zimbabwe has been active in networking, capacity-building.
PELUM Zimbabwe’s mission is to upscale participatory ecological land use management practices for improved nutrition security, livelihoods and environmental sustainability.
PELUM Zimbabwe promotes participatory land use management practices that are ecologically aligned with the laws of nature, economically viable, and socially just.
The organization focuses on seed and nutrition with the goal of strengthening community based seed systems or farmer managed seed systems, land use management with a focus on the correct management of livestock to regenerate landscapes using livestock and indigenous knowledge and wisdom, agroecology marketing with the goal of transforming how marketing is viewed and supported by various stakeholders in Zimbabwe.
PELUM also collaborates with other like-minded organizations to promote its mission.
Recently PELUM held a two day agroecology stakeholder engagement workshop in collaboration with the Participatory Organic Research Extension and Training Trust (PORET) in Chimanimani on 16 and 17 November,2021.
The agroecology practices training workshop was attended by at least 40 participants from various organizations across the country.
PORET is a participatory project trust dedicated to improving the living conditions of the people of Manicaland, Zimbabwe.
Other participants who attended the training workshop were drawn from organizations like Towards Sustainable Use of Resources Organization (TSURO) Trust, Fambidzanai Permaculture Centre and the Agricultural Advisory Services (AGRITEX) in the ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement.
An official in the government’s climate change department confirmed that the department was working on initiating capacity building initiatives on agroecology for farmers across the country in collaboration with PELUM.
It is reliably understood that the government under the ministry of lands and agriculture is also working on developing an agroecology policy. national stakeholder outreach initiatives have been conducted throughout the country.
In June 2019 the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) convened a three-day meeting in Senegal to strategise Africa’s Agroecology for Climate Action campaign. The meeting resulted in two levels for the Campaign being identified. The first is a continental level campaign whose goal is to have Agroecology recognized at African Union and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) policy spaces. The second is national level campaigns seeking to advance Agroecology as a vehicle for the implementation of National Adaptation Plans (NAPs). To enable this, three core outcomes were identified,such as the establishment of an active network advancing Agroecology in NAPs, ensuring public support and action for Agroecology and mobilizing sufficient resources.
In response to the resolution for national level campaigns, PELUM Zimbabwe hosted a one-day National Agroecology for Climate Action campaign stakeholder meeting in Zimbabwe. The meeting was held on 12 February 2020 in Harare. It was attended by 19 participants comprised of civil society and the media. The meeting was a first step in developing a national action plan for an Agroecology for Climate Action Campaign in Zimbabwe.
Stakeholders at the meeting noted that there are good ideas and initiatives being done to address the climate crisis but the initiatives are not connected or linked limiting their outreach. One strategy that was suggested is to start small and promote responsible practices at individual level. This is expected to build the foundation of a grassroots owned campaign.
Stakeholders indicated the need to raise awareness so as to tackle the knowledge gap as well as changing attitudes, beliefs and behaviours.
The need to work hand in hand with government was also stressed.it was highlighted that civil society should not disregard government structures but should feed into the processes that the government is already working on and create a loud voice in those processes.
At the recent meeting held at Chimanimani, TSURO Trust Programmes Officer, Roseline Mukonoweshuro, defined agroecology as a holistic productive agricultural system which is in harmony with nature and optimizes interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment. She also said that agroecology encompasses sets of agricultural approaches and practices which are holistic and focusing on sustainability such as conservation agriculture, organic agriculture, agroforestry, permaculture, integrated farming and integrated pest management.
Mukonoweshuro also said that farmers should embrace agroecology because it addresses the root causes and problems associated with industrial agriculture, such as high external inputs, resources intensiveness, massive deforestation, water scarcities, biodiversity loss, soil depletion and high levels of green house gas emissions.
She said that despite conventional agriculture being practiced, hunger and extreme poverty continue to persist as critical global challenges.
At the meeting, participants who mostly included farmers benefitted from training on farmers managed seed systems, land and livestock management, agroforestry field trips including learning from water harvesting techniques which are being implemented by Participatory Organic research Extension and Training (PORET) in Manicaland province of Zimbabwe.