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Outcomes of the Zimbabwe Youth Agripreneurship Summit 2016

From 24th – 26th August, 2016, YPARD Zimbabwe took part in the Zimbabwe Youth Agripreneurship Summit 2016 an event  organized by the Zimbabwe Farmers Union at ZESA Training Centre, Belvedere, Harare, Zimbabwe.

As the YPARD Zimbabwe Country Representative, I took part in the event both as a presenter and as a facilitator with a focus on youth and climate change. My presentation Putting Innovation (s) at the Heart of Climate Change in Zimbabwe focussed more on how to innovate for climate change and ways of building climate resilience among young agripreneurs.

In the spirit of knowledge sharing, here are some of the sessions i facilitated and their outcomes. Enjoy reading through them

Presentation 1: 

Realities of Climate Change in Zimbabwe By Mr. Elisha Moyo, Principal Climate Change Researcher, Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate, Zimbabwe 

Mr. Elisha Moyo’s began his presentation by illustrating the realities if climate change through pictures of extreme weather events such as droughts and floods. He also showed a picture of the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015 by His Excellency President of Republic of Zimbabwe, Robert Gabriel Mugabe.  He stressed the differences in mitigation and adaptation as responses to climate change.  His presentation also touched on the fact that most of the Southern African countries economies are linked to agriculture including Zimbabwe.  The economic blueprint Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable and Socio-Economic Transformation emphasizes on energy efficiency.  Mr. Moyo described the climate system and how the greenhouse effect comes into being, when the normal state of the climate system is altered by various factors including agricultural emissions.  Global warming became a topical issue on the global agenda in the 1970’s when it was observed that the rise in temperature was contrary to the variations and that it was possible human activity (anthropogenic) was causing it.  He also indicated the importance of harnessing water to use for irrigation as a measure against unpredictable rainfall patterns.  He posed a question that in light of climate change should we really use flood irrigation? Mr. Moyo highlighted the urgent challenge being that of decoupling agricultural productivity and climate change.  He noted that the Government of Zimbabwe was ready to assist and work with young people.  Mr. Moyo distributed for free the Zimbabwe Intended National Contribution (2015) to all Session participants as part of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate mandate to improve climate change education and awareness. 

The recommendations emerging from his presentation are as follows: 

  • Put more measures to continue agricultural production
  • Insure crops and livestock against extreme weather events
  • Young people should be provided information on insurance policies and how they can use them in their businesses
  • Young people should change the way they do business; it should not be business-as-usual
  • Move away from rain-fed agriculture; use water efficiently
  • Adopt new sustainable agricultural and climate-smart practices
  • Assess and address the impacts of climate change at ward level
  • Read and study the National Documents on climate change and agriculture
  • Invest in research and science
  • Consider efficient buildings and transportation systems

Presentation 2 

Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies for Climate Change in the Agriculture Sector By Mrs. Sepo Marongwe, Conservation Agriculture Agronomist, Department of Agricultural, Technical and Extension Services, Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Zimbabwe 

Mrs. Marongwe noted the observation that average crop yield in some cropping areas in Zimbabwe are low and that sustainable intensification can increase the yield.   Agriculture is a huge contributor to greenhouse gases, and also a potential area for mitigation efforts.  She described climate-smart agriculture and its three pillars: productivity, adaptation (resilience), and mitigation and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration.  She also emphasized the potential in Conservation Agriculture in terms of reduction of production costs.  Mrs. Marongwe alluded to a number of adaptation strategies such as post-harvest management of losses, livestock management, land utilization, and use of climate information. She argued that each activity that young farmers could be engaged in should make economic and business sense: “Cost your inputs. Is my output worth the inputs I have put in?” she said.  

The recommendations emerging from her presentation are as follows: 

  • Young people should network and have interactions with other people
  • Create partnerships among stakeholders
  • Close the gap between technology and farmers
  • Young people should actively seek new markets for their agricultural produce
  • Young farmers should enhance their personalities, for example, through boldness; actively seeking out new business opportunities; and openness. 
  • Young farmers should register their business as part of reputation building in the agriculture industry
  • Young people should explore the opportunities along the value chains (e.g. weed management and spraying services)
  • Young people should visit the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development stand at the Harare Agricultural Show to see more on Conservation Agriculture

Presentation 3 

Climate Change and Agribusiness, Verengayi Mabika, Country Director, Development Reality Institute, Harare, Zimbabwe  

Mr. Verengayi Mabika described his organisation, Development Reality Institute as involved in training a new generation of social entrepreneurs.  He then went on to quote the Chinese expression which describes “crises/opportunity”, as applicable to the challenges that the country faces in climate change.   He presented a global overview in various aspects such as the ecological footprint of all continents and poverty footprint.  He expressed concern over the reliance on fossil fuels in many countries around the world.  He noted that there was a close link between climate crisis and extreme events, notably when one closely observed the rainfall and temperature patterns.  Mr. Mabika noted that in 2100 Africa will have more people that China and India combined. This projection was of concern as the people would need land and food which are in short supply.  Agriculture contributes 30 percent of emissions in the atmosphere.  Mr. Mabika noted that the global systems vulnerable to climate change were food supply, water and public health. 

The recommendations emerging from his presentation are as follows: 

  • Exploring the ways to handle the three pillars of climate-smart agriculture (productivity, adaptation and mitigation)
  • Learn from success stories (e.g. the experiences of Israel in crop and water management as well as exporting of fresh produce yet the country had desert-like conditions)
  • Be decisive when dealing with climate change
  • Explore opportunities in the green economy (e.g. renewable energy)
  • Apply to innovation challenges such as the Green Innovations Hub (www.gih.space)

Open Discussion

Question 1: How to link innovation from territory to industry?  

Question 2: How to resolve the conflicts between mining and agriculture around the Midlands area?

Question 3: Why don’t the Government of Zimbabwe not explore the opportunities around desalination of ocean and sea water?

Question 4: How to access the climate funds under the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate and others such as the Global Environmental Facility – Small Grants Programme?

Question 5: How can young farmers protect their innovations/ideas?

Question 6: What should be done with Legislative members who buy big vehicles?

Question 7: How do young farmers inform the technology developers that they need to modify the two-wheeled tractors? (The tractor is problematic as to the depth to which it can plough and the types of soil on which it can work). 

Question 8: What can young farmers do about the high-input costs around drip irrigation and can one use borehole water to irrigate bigger pieces of land? (Addressed during the Plenary Session in the Afternoon)

Responses to Specific Question from the Speakers 

  • Network and share the work you are doing with others (Q1)
  • Harness the innovations from research institutes and universities for the benefit of industry and young farmers (Q1)
  • Young people should build partnerships with organisations working in the same area as them (Q1)
  • Innovations are location-specific and climate-sensitive in some instances. They don’t suit all areas (Q1)
  • To guard against segmentation among actors in agriculture and climate change, young people should keep in touch (Q1)
  • Government of Zimbabwe is aware of the challenges that are in Midlands in particular for people involved in mining and those in agriculture (Q2)
  • Desalination projects are capital intensive and not considered a priority as of now (Q3)
  • Young people should develop proposals that are aligned to national priorities and strategic and linked to social issues (Q4)
  • Young people should acquire project proposal writing skills (Q4)
  • Young people should follow the proposal templates provided by the funding partners documents (Q4)
  • The Global Environment Facility – Small Grants Programme awards grants of up to USD $ 50, 000 to innovative ideas (Q4)
  • Training needed in intellectual property rights and patents (Q5)
  • Young people should consider participating in The Green Innovations Hub for it is addressing how innovators can protect their ideas (Q5)
  • Behavior change among citizens is needed in addressing climate change (Q5)
  • Sensitization of Legislative members on climate change issues and efficient-but-low-cost transportation systems (Q6)
  • Research works with feedback especially concerning the two-wheeled tractor which some participants noted that it needed to have adjustments in the design (Q7)