Land, Soil Conservation Policy for Agricultural Productivity

Sharon Chigeza

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MUTARE- Nearly 50 tonnes per hectare of soil is being lost every year in Zimbabwe, a problem
that has adversely impacted on crop production posing far reaching consequences for the
environment and the economy.
Department of Agricultural Engineering, Mechanisation, Soil and Water Conservation, Chief
Director, Engineer, Edwin Zimhunga said nearly half these losses resulted from climate change
and called for the employment of mitigating and adaptation measures.
“The quality and quantity of soil is crucial to the overall health of our land and wider
environment. Zimbabwe is primarily an agricultural economy and half of our land depends on
productive soils. Soil productivity, specifically, could be affected by the loss of topsoil making
pastures unproductive and forcing farmers to invest in more nutrients through application of
fertilisers,” he said.
He said the loss of productive soils explained the low production levels the country is
experiencing in grain crops output hence the need to push for soil and water conservation
methods to increase production.
“The national average of maize production stands at 1.2 tonnes per hectare as opposed to a
potential 7 tonnnes per hectare. For small grains it is about 0.2 tonnes per hectare against a target
of 1.5 tonnes per hectare,” said Zimhunga.
He said soil and water were the epitome of production and productivity within the agricultural
sector and acknowledged more action was needed to push agricultural production numbers as the
nation drives vision 2030 for an upper middle class economy thus calling for soil and water
conservation policy.
He highlighted that the impacts of climate change heaped more pressure on the land and water
sources in the country thus the need for the formulation of a water and land conservation policy.
“Climate change at times brings more intense rainfall events worsening erosion and sediment
pollution and making land yet more unsuitable for farming. It also results in very little amounts
of rainfall and that little amount of rainfall we need to conserve. The formulation of a water and
later conservation policy aimed at addressing the adverse effects of such incidences,” he said.
Acting Director, Department of Agricultural Engineering, Mechanisation and Soil Conservation
Hebert Gutu said farming in water ways, wetlands stream bank cultivation has led to siltation and
land degradation hence the need to formulate a policy to guard against such practices.

“We want to come up with a policy which will actually safeguard our natural resources which
are soil and water. Basically what we need to come up with is a policy which will make sure we
use soil and water sustainably for our survival and for future generations,” said Gutu.
Too much erosion can reduce farm productivity, increase flooding in towns and cities and
degrade the health of fresh water bodies.
In line with National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), Government has started the process of
formulating a National Soil and Water Conservation Policy that will guide the protection and
management of water bodies and land.
The crafting of the policy comes soon after the Government launched the soil and water
conservation blitz in June this year.
The stakeholder consultations are expected to be conducted countrywide.
The draft policy is expected to be completed by the end of August 2023.

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