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Developing a Climate-Smart Agriculture Manual for University level and Professional Level Agriculture Education in Zimbabwe

The CTCN request for technical assistance for developing a Climate Smart Agriculture Manual (CSA) is based on the fact that there is a lack of climate change education and practical climate change approaches  among the current agriculture extension workers, providing professional services to Zimbabwe’s largely majority rural farming community and newly resettled farmers in Zimbabwe’s agriculture community. The National Climate Change Response Strategy identified the need to promote climate smart agriculture as part of the overarching issues in Agriculture and Food Security under the STRATEGY of strengthening capacity to generate new forms of empirical knowledge, technologies and agricultural support services that meet emerging development challenges arising from increased climate change and variability. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development (MAMID), during the Curriculum review workshop held in July 2015, there is need to provide CSA training to the current and future crop of agriculture extension workers and agricultural college students on climate change issues. There is also need to mobilize support to ensure extension workers receive CSA education to be able to build resilience to climate change in the farming communities they operate in.

Most of the farmers lack adequate knowledge and training on climate change in general, let alone climate-smart agriculture and sustainable environmental practices, which further increases vulnerability and risk to agriculture and the environment. Many smallholder farmers continue to follow environmentally unsustainable practices of conventional tillage, unsustainable waste management practice,  cutting down trees and use the slash and burn methods, and flood irrigation (in a water stressed region), further increasing forest degradation and soil infertility due to low moisture content. There is also a widespread use and dependency on synthetic fertilizers and harmful chemicals in crop production. These harm the environment through greenhouse gas emissions like nitrous oxide, reduced soil capacity to retain moisture and nutrients.

The problems the country is facing emanate, mainly from climate change, unsustainable farming methods and lack of training of extension officers on climate change adaptation and mitigation through climate-smart agriculture – hence the CTCN request.  The current agriculture education syllabus does not holistically address climate change issues, mitigation and adaptation operational issues including Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) and therefore needs to be aligned to current and future climate issues affecting agriculture. With the country’s low adaptive capacity, there is urgent need to address agriculture education so as to develop sustainable solutions affecting the agriculture value chain, food and nutrition security, and economic growth and development. 

The objectives of the CTCN Technical Assistance are to develop a Climate Smart Agriculture manual for agriculture education (extension) in Zimbabwe and to provide training of trainers after the launch of the manual. This technical assistance will involve both local and international experts in developing the Climate Smart Agriculture manual within 12 months. The process will entail three workshops and field visits to agricultural communities and Climate Smart Agriculture projects so as to provide local contacts to strengthen the relevance and integration of traditional and modern knowledge in implementing Climate Smart Agriculture approaches. The main country partners are Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development (MAMID), Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate (MEWC), and Green Impact Trust (GIT).

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