This study was undertaken to provide a succinct assessment of the linkages between agricultural policy reform in Zimbabwe and the challenges that climate change poses to smallholder farmers in the country. The study is motivated by a lack of analysis of how post-independence agrarian reform processes in Zimbabwe may affect adaptation to climate change in the agricultural sector. The key driving factor behind land redistribution has largely been to enhance equity in the ownership of arable land. So far there has been less focus on assisting beneficiary farmers to adapt to climate change, which is increasingly becoming a reality and further aggravating the stresses already associated with smallholder production, including small farm sizes, informal land tenure, poorly developed infrastructure and unpredictable and uneven exposure to markets.
The paper reveals that while the current status of land reforms has enabled previously disadvantaged peasants to acquire land, smallholders still face production challenges such as tenure insecurity, inadequate technical support, poorly developed infrastructure, limited access to markets and the effects of HIV/AIDS. These factors also remain key concerns for farmers in the face of the risks posed by climate change. The study found that smallholder farmers would benefit from climate change adaptation goals that focus on irrigation development, appropriate soil and water conservation technologies and sustainable utilisation of forest resources. While the government has been investing heavily in input support to smallholder famers, this paper argues for a more systemic targeting in resource allocation which is anchored on crop diversification in response to productivity trends across the agro-ecological zones of the country. A ‘market-oriented’ climate change adaptation approach which guarantees high returns to farmers who grow adaptable crop varieties like small grains should be considered, rather than the current situation where emphasis is put on cash crops like cotton and tobacco. Finally, the paper suggests a multi-sectoral and inter-disciplinary approach that involves government ministries, community based organisations, the private sector and other non-state actors. This would ensure a holistic approach in achieving climate change adaptation policy goals, and also help address other socio-economic challenges that smallholder farmers currently face.
Kudejira, D. An integrated approach towards moderating the effects of climate change onagriculture: A policy perspective for Zimbabwe. Future Agricultures Consortium, Brighton, UK (2014) 21 pp.