Prosper Ndlovu, Business Editor
ZIMBABWE is increasing its focus towards climate-smart agriculture investments aimed at improving productivity and resilience.
With climate change increasingly becoming a reality, both the Government and the private sector are agreed on the need to step up effective climate smart agriculture adaptation. There are fears that the adverse impact of climate change-induced dry spells on agricultural sector could force a decline in Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Agriculture is the country’s key economic pillar, currently contributing about 10-20 percent of GDP.
According to the Climate Smart Agriculture Investment Plan (CSAIP) report launched Wednesday alongside the Public Expenditure Review on Agriculture (PER), unless adequate measures are taken, climate change could greatly negatively impact on the overall economy.
Ensuring climate smart investment in agriculture is, therefore, a priority for economic growth.
“Zimbabwe is already pursuing a selection of climate smart agriculture adaptations through Pfumvudza/Intwasa, which includes conservation agriculture practices such as zero tillage, crop rotation and mulching,” said Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka.
“Improving the productivity of the sector goes hand in hand with creating an enabling environment in relation to poverty and gender issues, water access and land tenure security.
“Addressing these foundational issues is necessary to move to a more productive, resilient and low emissions agriculture sector that benefits millions of farmers.”
The minister, who was part of the high-level panel during a webinar on smart climate agriculture, said the Government was very clear that climate variability is increasingly becoming a major constraint to economic growth, food security and poverty reduction initiatives in the country.
He noted that data trends were indicating negative impacts on water resource availability over time. In light of the above, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Clemence Chiduwa, who also attended the webinar, said investments in new and existing water sources were urgently required to meet current and projected demand for water, including conjunctive use of ground and surface water sources.
The CSAIP is a culmination of stakeholder consultations that prioritises five packages of climate smart investments and policy actions that will support improvement across three pillars namely the achievement of a more productive, resilient and low-emissions agriculture sector.
The investment plan includes investment priorities with promising impact to raise agricultural productivity, resilience to climate change and minimise greenhouse gas emission.
The Agriculture PER notes that sustainable agricultural spending cannot be separated from broader economic reforms if the country is to raise agricultural productivity and rebuild macro-economic resilience.
It further states that agricultural spending increased from 5,1 percent of total Government expenditure between 2011-2015 to nearly a quarter of the budget in 2019.
However, the sector continues to underperform in terms of productivity growth and food security, emphasising the need to realign spending priorities to programmes that will drive agricultural productivity and resilience.
“As increased agriculture spending has not yielded greater productivity, key sources of recovery such as finance, policy and infrastructure need to be re-oriented,” said Ms Mukami Kariuki, World Bank country manager for Zimbabwe.
“With the threat of recurrent drought costing Zimbabwe about 7,3 percent of GDP every year, growing vulnerability is a concern. Restoring economic health through sustainable fiscal policy, alongside investments in markets, water access and improved technologies will have an enormous impact on the sector.”
Both the Climate Smart Agriculture Investment Plan and the Agriculture Public Expenditure Review provide evidence to inform agricultural policy decisions towards Zimbabwe’s Vision 2030.