Zimbabwean farmers in drier regions urged to embrace drought-resistant crops


ZIMBABWEAN subsistence farmers in drier regions are being encouraged to embrace drought-
resistant traditional small grains such as sorghum and millet instead of the water thirst staple maize
crop in the context of climate change-induced droughts and erratic rainfall.
In an interview with Xinhua, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries,
Water and Rural Development John Basera said climate change remains a major threat to national
food security, hence the need to embrace climate-smart agriculture.
We know that climate change is indeed a reality and we basically have two options. The first option
is to adapt and the other option is obviously to give up and die, but certainly, we will choose to
adapt and one of the ways to adapt to climate change is the adoption of climate-smart cropping and
livestock options,Basera told Xinhua.
In the last decade, dry spells have increased in frequency across Zimbabwe, impacting negatively on
rural farmers who mostly depend on rain-fed agricultural production.
In response, Basera said the government is encouraging the production of small grains to counter
the risk of poor yields due to climate change.

Unlike maize, small grains can help mitigate the effects of climate change-induced droughts since
they are tropically adapted plants with high water use efficiency due to their structural

Despite the calls to gravitate toward drought-tolerant crops, farmers in drier regions had continued
to grow maize due to its favourable pricing and strong demand from the domestic market.
As a result, in a bid to encourage farmers to invest in climate-smart small grains, this year the
government introduced a grain-swap system where farmers can exchange their small grains for
Grain Marketing Board (GMB) CEO Rockie Mutenha said the facility is meant to ensure that farmers
in regions that are incompatible with maize production have access to the staple crop, as they move
to sustainable alternatives.

We want to promote crops that can do well by region, and thats why we are saying that those in
marginal areas where there is not enough rainfall, they must grow what is best produced in that
area, should they want maize, they can go and exchange it and get maize, Mutenha told Xinhua.

According to the agriculture ministry, Zimbabwes maize crop for the farming season year 2021/22
stood at 1.5 million tons. Zimbabwe requires 2.2 million tons of maize annually for both human and
livestock consumption.


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