/Irrigation Innovations for fighting climate change

Irrigation Innovations for fighting climate change

How smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe are succeeding with irrigation and fighting climate change impacts

In 2016 and 2017, Zimbabwe was struck by a double disaster: An already severe drought was exacerbated by the most extreme El Niño impact seen in the country during the past 75 years. In combination, the two events decimated food production and led Zimbabwe to declare a state of disaster.

Unfortunately, such extreme weather is becoming more common. Droughts and accelerating climate change impacts are making life difficult for farmers in Zimbabwe, not least for the large majority who practise rain-fed agriculture. When frequent droughts are replaced with erratic floods, as was the case during the 2016-2017 El Niño season, rain-fed crops naturally fail.

That’s why small-scale irrigation is emerging as a top priority to boost food security, eradicate poverty and build resilience against climate change impacts. But irrigation is in itself not a silver bullet solution: irrigation schemes are complex socio-ecological systems and should be treated as such.

Smallholders are only able to succeed when they can manage their farm systems efficiently. New, easy-to-use tools and recently introduced opportunities to experiment and solve problems in collaboration with others allow farmers to become more efficient and their farms more profitable.
By Martin Moyo, ICRISAT