Small-scale farmers thrive in the face of climate change

Small-scale farmers thrive in the face of climate change

Obert Gorokoto (63) a small-scale farmer working with PELUM Zimbabwe member, Mwenezi Development Training Centre (MDTC) in Mwenezi district says adopting agroecology has provided a lifeline for his family in the face of climate change. Obert says whereas he used to fail to harvest a single tonne of grain on his one-hectare piece of land, he now boasts of food security from the same piece of land. Photo: Collins Chirinda/PELUM Zimbabwe. 

The current climate crisis continues to inflict excruciating pain on farmers world-wide. However, thanks to indigenous knowledge systems and agroecology, some small-scale farmers are adapting to climate change and improving their livelihoods in the face of the climate crisis.

Obert Gorokoto (63), is one small-scale farmer from drought prone Mwenezi district who has adopted agroecology as a climate change adaptation strategy.

Obert says before adopting agroecology, his family used to struggle to harvest enough food because of the high temperatures, inadequate water and decreased soil fertility. 

“I used to struggle to feed my family because I used to plant maize, which is a high feeder. My land used to have sandy soils which were very salty and unproductive. Climate change made things worse because the weather patterns were unpredictable,” says Obert. 

Obert says when he adopted Agroecology, he also began focusing on growing crops which are drought tolerant.

“I  adopted water harvesting and started using organic manure instead of synthetic fertilisers to boost the health of my soil. I started planting different millet varieties including sorghum, finger millet and pearl millet,” he says. 

Obert says adopting these measures has significantly improved his family’s food security. 

“This improved food security for my family. Where I used to harvest less than a tonne of grain per hectare, I now have above three tonnes of grain,” says Obert. 

Janet Gosa (49) another small-scale farmer from Mwenezi district says adopting Agroecology has also strengthened her family and community’s food security

“Agroecology is an all-encompassing and holistic way of life. For me as a farmer, agroecology came as a godsend because it completely transformed our way of life and improved our agricultural systems. Now productivity and food security in our communities has improved,” says Janet. 

Sethukile Dube (53) an Agricultural Technical Extension (AGRITEX) Officer working with farmers in Mwenezi district implored farmers to adopt farming practices that are in harmony with  the environment and provide a basis for sustainability and food security. 

“I encourage farmers in areas like Mwenezi which are drought prone and the worst affected by climate change to adopt sustainable farming practices. For example, farmers like Obert are using organic manure and mulching to improve soil fertility and water retention capacity of the soil which is proving beneficial because they are producing enough food for their families,” says Sethukile.