Zimbabwe: Climate-smart technologies for post COVID-19 food security

In Southern Africa, the disease burden, lockdowns and other restrictions associated with COVID-19 have disrupted food value chains at both production and marketing levels. The shock induced by the pandemic has compounded the impact of climate change (manifested by rising temperatures and growing aridity but also with torrential rainfall episodes) on agri-food systems – making them more vulnerable and negatively affecting the food and nutrition status of millions of households, including those whose livelihoods depend on subsistence and small-scale agriculture.

In response, the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) launched a project to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on food and nutrition security in Zimbabwe (as well as Eswatini, Mozambique and Zambia) using climate-smart technologies. This project is funded by the Intra-ACP GCCA+ programme in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, and in Zimbabwe it is managed by the Grow a Tree Foundation (GTF).

The Zimbabwe project component, launched in December 2020 and with a duration of 18 months, is carried out on a 3.5-hectare estate in Gwangwawa, a village in the Rushinga District of north-eastern Zimbabwe. It supports a community of 100 households through a range of activities aimed at climate-proofing and diversifying agricultural production. 

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It supports the planting of fruit, moringa and baobab trees, the drilling of solar-powered boreholes to secure horticultural and fruit production, the expansion of solar-powered drip irrigation, and the dissemination of efficient cookstoves to reduce wood fuel consumption. It has also assisted with the registration of companies that will help local farmers commercialise their produce, and is training them in climate-smart agronomic practices and financial management.
After one year of implementation, the results are already visible in the form of increasing horticultural production.  There are plans to expand to other product lines such as beekeeping, fish farming, chicken and goat rearing, and groundnut and baobab pulp processing. The initial success has helped attract interest from banks, which have lent money for fencing and offered financial services. This all helps develop a sustainable alternative to livelihoods based on  gold mining, tobacco production and charcoal making.