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By Columbus Mabika
Agriculture stakeholders have been called to embrace smart agriculture practices to cushion farmers against the effects of climate change ahead of the 2019-2020 farming season.
Smart agriculture is a cocktail of new ways that help to guide actions required to modify and reorient agricultural systems to effectively support the development and guarantee food security in the face of changing climate.
In a presentation during the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) congress in Masvingo at the weekend, seed company Sygenta Zimbabwe representative Mr Tawanda Mangisi said agricultural stakeholders needed to take heed of smart agriculture practices to ensure food security in the face of climate change.
“As a seed manufacturing company, we are calling on stakeholders to accelerate the modernisation of our agriculture and gear towards transforming the sector through broadening access to agricultural inputs, promoting production and productivity, growing of new seed varieties, enhancing extension services and infrastructure. This all being aimed to counter this scourge of climate change and foster national food security,” he said.
Mr Mangisi said as part of smart agriculture, farmers are called to plant seeds designed to withstand drought conditions, extreme heat or cold to maximise production and ensure national food security.
“As Sygenta, we are encouraging farmers to grow hybrid, drought-tolerant seeds for a better market and yields. Farming is a business, so farmers should not just grow crops for the sake of it.
“They should make a profit. So, for them to make a profit they should have knowledge of crop management,” said Mr Mangisi.
He said Sygenta was stocking adequate drought-tolerant hybrid maize seeds for farmers as they represent a new shift in farming opportunities.
Drought-tolerant seeds have capacity to improve yields in the face of challenges presented by climate change in the region such as recurring droughts.
ZFU executive director Mr Paul Zakariya said smart agriculture was the way to go.
“Smart agriculture through adoption of new farming methods and technologies is the way to go in face of this climate change being experienced in contemporary times,” he said.
Prolonged dry spells experienced in the 2018/2019 season caused a significant decline in national agriculture production compared to the 2017/2018 season, threatening national food security and the livelihoods of many rural families.
Since the turn of the year, Government has lined up a number of programmes and projects that are funded in support of the Smart Agriculture initiative, chief among them knowledge empowerment on tackling climate change and its effects.