Zimbabwe expects to harvest 2.28 million metric tons of maize this year, enough to meet its annual consumption, due to the promotion of farming practices aimed at reducing the impact of climate change, such as no-till farming and water harvesting.
“Water harvesting techniques, soil and moisture conservation, and the minimal disturbance of soil under this programme have seen a good crop around the country,” Zimbabwe’s Agriculture deputy minister Vangelis Haritatos told Reuters.
No-till farming minimises soil disturbance, which helps keep carbon in the soil and also enriches soil biodiversity, reducing the need for chemical fertilisers that emit greenhouse.
Zimbabwe is one of the countries worst affected by the El Nino weather pattern and struggles to feed itself.
Zimbabwe produced 2.3 million tonnes of maize last year. The country requires 2.2 million tonnes of the staple grain annually for human and livestock consumption.
Last December, during an extended spell of dry and hot weather conditions, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said Zimbabwe’s maize harvest could be halved to 1.1 million tonnes in 2024 due to an El Nino-induced drought.
El Nino, a natural climate phenomenon in which surface waters of the central and eastern Pacific become unusually warm, causing changes in global weather patterns, is expected to hit crop yields during the 2023/24 farming season.
However, rains received during the second half of December and throughout January revived Zimbabwe’s hopes for a good harvest.
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According to government data, smallholder farmers, who produce most of the country’s maize, doubled their planted area to 744,588 hectares in the 2023-24 season, from 366,706 hectares previously.
“This is a reflection that farmers are adopting the recommended climate-proofing interventions, especially during the El Nino condition,” Cabinet said in a statement released late Tuesday.