Diversify to fruit trees to combat climate change shocks, farmers gold
Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, [email protected]
COMMUNITIES have been urged to grow fruit trees to cope with shocks from climatic change effects such as drought.
In a speech read on her behalf by an administrator in her officer, Mr Thulani Moyo, at the district tree planting programme in Phakamani Garden, Sengezane Village in Ward 14 Gwanda on Friday, Gwanda District Development Coordinator Ms Nomathemba Ndlovu said fruit trees have proved to be a reliable source of income for community members.
“As you may be aware, Gwanda falls within the dry regions of the country, receiving very little rainfall each year. This causes it to be susceptible to agricultural crop failures, and therefore growing fruit trees becomes a strategic fall-back position hedging farmers against hunger. Trees are naturally more resilient to harsh weather conditions than agricultural crops.
“This day serves to remind us that we must plant trees. Gwanda joins the rest of the country in commemorating this important day being held under the theme “Tree and forest for Ecosystem Restoration and Improved Livelihoods”. This theme is appropriate at such a time as this, when food security is under serious threat due to climatic changes and land degradation,” she said.
Ms Ndlovu said the country has not been spared from the devastating effects of climate change which have had a negative bearing on food security. She said planting of and caring for fruit trees is a grand strategy by the Government of Zimbabwe to achieve both the enhancement of “Life on Land” as expounded through Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 15, as well as food security, which is a commitment under SDG number 2.
“Ladies and gentlemen, trees and forests play a fundamental role in environmental management and mitigate the effects of climate change; therefore their preservation is critical for a sustainable environment. Trees also provide additional income and dietary diversity enabling our communities to cope with shocks from climatic change effects such as droughts. Fruit trees offer a multiplicity of nutrients to our communities reducing occurrences of diseases that are related to poor diets like night blindness,” she said.
Ms Ndlovu urged villagers to inculcate in themselves a culture of tree planting and conservation. She said horticulture farmers have to adopt agro forestry as it is key to sustaining food security and nutrition.
Agro forestry involves mixing of crops and or livestock taking advantage of their symbiotic and abiotic interactions. Planting trees together with crops, greatly increases the yield in the field and get fruits. Research has shown that after agroforestry, farmers in drought situations still get up to 80 percent what they get in a normal season. Agro-forestry also achieves same effect on pests and diseases as crop rotation improves soil fertility.
Ms Ndlovu said climate change and climate variability have made agricultural activities unsustainable; however non timber forest products such as marula fruits, baobab fruits, honey, mopane worms grasses and many other wild fruits can be an alternative source.
The rate of deforestation in Gwanda lies at more than 933 hectares per year. The main drivers of deforestation in the district have been; agriculture expansion, firewood and mining.
Ms Ndlovu said it is the duty of every member of the Gwanda community to reverse deforestation through intensive tree planting and conservation.
She urged district government authorities, businesses, the traditional leadership and NGOs to join hands with the Forestry Commission, law enforcement and environmental protection agencies, to educate societies about the disadvantages of forest degradation and to bring unrepentant transgressors of these anti-forest activities to book.