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EU chips in on climate-friendly farming

EU ambassador to Zimbabwe, Jobst von Kirchmann

THE European Union (EU)’s €400 million facility to support climate change, gender equality and empowerment will also help finance drought tolerant farming practices, NewsDay Farming can reveal.

Last month, the EU launched the EU and Zimbabwe, Together, Tomorrow, Today initiative that seeks to raise climate change awareness and support gender equality and empowerment over the next two years.

As part of the support to the climate change pillar, the EU will support farmers who adopt climate smart practices as global warming continues to negatively affect rainfall in the region.

The last 2021/22 agricultural season was characterised by erratic rainfall patterns that led to suppressed crop production and affected livestock farming, although the country achieved a winter wheat surplus.

Speaking to NewsDay Farming in a recent interview EU ambassador to Zimbabwe, Jobst von Kirchmann said part of their facility included technical support to farmers to train them to adopt more climate-friendly farming.

“I think it ranges from using, for example, drought resistance to advising and helping farmers, to maybe plant some of the crops in different areas where it's better, and not always to plant the same crops in the same field,” Kirchmann told NewsDay Farming.

“There’s a lot of technical assistance, a lot of training. There is obviously also a lot of financing because sometimes you want to be bigger, and you need financing. There will be a lot on women as well, on the clip climate-smart agriculture. It’s a holistic approach.”

In its latest food security update, the United States Agency for International Development noted that the 2022/23 agricultural season looked more favourable than the previous season.

“Normal rainfall is expected through the end of the year, facilitating a normal start to the agricultural season. For the remainder of the season, forecasts indicate normal to above-average rainfall is likely,” part of the update reads.

“Favourable rainfall is expected to enhance crop production in all sectors, although the risks of cyclones, floods, waterlogging, leaching and crop and livestock diseases remain high, with a high likelihood of damage to infrastructure, including roads and bridges, negatively impacting access to markets and some livelihoods and coping strategies.”

The update continues: “Near-normal cropped areas are expected for the 2022/23 cropping season, given the largely favourable rainfall forecast and anticipated government crop input supply. Despite above-average agricultural input prices and likely fertiliser shortages, which will negatively impact access at both large-scale commercial and smallholder subsistence levels, near-normal production is expected for the 2022-23 production season.”

Kirchmann said while he was not able to tell Zimbabwe what to do on the matter of climate smart farming, he could only talk about what has worked elsewhere.

“I have seen the ideas which are around in particular, in the national development strategy, but also in different policy documents and they go in a good direction,” he said.

“This is why the EU and also the EU member States say, well, we as a team Europe we support that because that’s a good idea. And that also obviously ticks a box with us because it’s fight against climate change, it’s saving the planet, its sustainable agriculture, it’s a lot of things, which are values as well.”

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