Inoculated Rhizobia bacteria to increase legume yields

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Sven Torfinn/Panos


Nitrogen-fixing tech aiding legume yields in Zimbabwe

Speed read

  • Smallholders are unable to afford fertilisers to increase crop yields
  • In Zimbabwe, use of low-cost fertiliser tech is increasing legume yields
  • At least 60,000 smallholders are using the technology

A low-cost nitrogen fixing technology for legume crops is being given to small-scale farmers in Zimbabwe to improve national food and nutrition security.

The Chemistry and Soil Research Institute in Zimbabwe is distributing sachets that contain inoculated Rhizobia bacteria — a technique for adding bacteria to a carrier medium to improve biological nitrogen fixation — to farmers for increased yields and affordable organic fertilisers.

Emmanuel Chikwari, head of the institute, which is under the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, says this process is useful for meeting the nitrogen requirements of legume plants.

“This is a promising technology in the production of legume crops,” says Chikwari. “The inoculants can be added to the seed before planting.”

Nitrogen, he explains, is essential for photosynthesis, a process whereby plants make their own food in the presence of water, sunshine and carbon dioxide for vigorous growth and increased yields.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Farmers in Zimbabwe said their future looks bleak


Zimbabwe: Zim Farmers Fear for Their Cattle As Drought, Disease Hit Home

Zimbabwe’s farmers in Matabeleland South province fear their cattle won’t survive the drought that has hit the region, with more than 300 000 cattle said to be at risk, according to a report.

Thousands of cattle are at risk of being wiped out by drought and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) that have hit the region hard this year, News Day reported on Monday.

Farmers said the future looked bleak.

“Drought is very intense in this province and our livestock [is] at great risk. Drought mitigation strategies are required to save the livestock,” one of the farmers, Solomon Linda, was quoted as saying.

“We are also being affected by foot-and-mouth disease and if nothing tangible to arrest it is done, then we are heading for a disaster,” he added.

Read the full article: allAfrica


Food crisis in Zimbabwe ?

Photo credit: IRIN News

Impact of a long dry spell on maize in Mhondoro-Ngezi district, about 160km south of the capital, Harare

Zimbabwe plunges towards a food crisis


Many more farmers in the drought-prone south of the country are facing the same situation, with the April/May maize harvest – Zimbabwe’s staple crop – reportedly written off in entire districts.

An initial assessment in February estimated that 23 percent of cultivated land failed to produce a crop. But a new report by a UN and NGO consortium called the Food and Nutrition Survey Working Group says more than half of Zimbabwe’s farms could be affected.

Rural households in the south could produce “next to nothing this season,” according to the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Network (FEWS NET).

“In the absence of any assistance, households will likely be in ‘crisis’ [defined as at least 20 percent of households facing high or above usual acute malnutrition] from July through September,” FEWS NET warned.

Confirmation of the extent of the problem will come with the release of the joint government-UN agency Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment, due possibly as early as next month.

“We don’t have precise figures, but we do have indications of a looming food crisis,” World Food Programme spokesman David Orr told IRIN.

According to the Food and Nutrition Survey Working Group report, maize prices in the drought-hit south are already climbing – up 44 percent from February to March in Gwanda, Beitbridge and Mangwe.

After a good season last year, Zimbabwe’s farmers have been hit by a string of unfortunate weather events. First, the rains were late in coming, then there was bad flooding in western Mashonaland, and now an extended dry period in the south.

Trying to cope

With little to harvest, farmers in Mhondoro-Ngezi district hang around the town centre. The conversation inevitably revolves around how to make ends meet for the rest of the year.

Read the full article: IRIN News

Ensuring food security in the face of frequent droughts


Zimbabwe: U.S $250 Million for Irrigation Schemes

Government recently secured a $250 million agricultural mechanisation loan facility from three countries that should ensure food security in the face of frequent droughts caused by climate change.President Mugabe is expected to launch the mechanisation programme soon, which would be driven by the loans from Brazil, India and South Korea for both smallholder and large-scale farmers.

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made said last week that Government secured $90 million from Brazil, $60 million from India Eximbank and about $100 million from South Korea.

 Read the full article: allAfrica


Water harvesting and irrigation in Zimbabwe

Photo credit: Bulawayo

Due to  high levels of illegal gold panning, siltation is reducing the water holding capacity of the major dams in Matabeleland South

Zimbabwe Seeks to Water Crops With Irrigation Investment

By Marko Phiri


The government declared a crop failure in March, the month when farmers expect to be harvesting maize, with more than three quarters of crops lost in some parts of the south.

Heavy rains returned again from late March into April, compounding the misery for farmers across the country.

Their struggle with weather extremes has prompted a renewed focus on rainwater harvesting and irrigation, with the government now seeking investment in new infrastructure.

Earlier in the year, President Robert Mugabe – who has long touted agriculture as the country’s economic bulwark – lamented Zimbabwe’s inability to harness rainwater effectively, according to state media.

“Rains fall for two months and go but we lack water harvesting. At the end of the day, we have the maize crop wilting faster than other crops. If we have dams, we (can) resort to irrigation,” he was quoted as saying in February.


Many existing dams – like the 50 or so in Zimbabwe’s two Matabeleland provinces – are old and failing to capture enough water, while irrigation schemes are in a state of disrepair, according to Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa who has been tasked with mobilising resources for irrigation.

Elisha Moyo, principal climate change researcher at the environment and climate ministry, said investment in irrigation should not be seen as a “standalone initiative” but as part of a sustainable solution to water issues.

Read the full article: allAfrica

Nine of the 17 MDGs are based on science and technology

Photo credit: Google

United Nations Environment Programme collaboration in an innovative manner to make environmental science actionable for policy making and civil society

Zimbabwe: ‘Science and Technology Key to Sustainable Growth’

African countries should use science and technology to research on new sources of food, a senior Government official has said. Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Oppah Muchinguri told delegates to the recently ended two-day UNESCO Asia-Africa consultation on sustainability science to support the post-2015 agenda that science is crucial for poverty reduction, clean water and new energy forms to support the Sustainable Development Goals agenda. She added that there was need to turn the country’s knowledge base into practical solutions.

“We are very proud as a nation that the literacy rate is above 90 percent, but that knowledge should be converted to into practice, there is need for increasing scientific literacy, we need to develop a market-oriented curriculum through research of new technologies, African governments, scientists and communities therefore need to look ahead with foresight in order to plan and prepare adequately for emerging development challenges and opportunities,” said Minister Muchinguri.

She added that for sustainable development, policy makers, governments and scientists should join hands in harnessing science and technological innovations.

Read the full article: allAfrica

Dry spell in Zimbabwe

Photo credit: Google

A woman fertilizes corn (maize) plants near Wedza, Zimbabwe. (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Zimbabwe: Dry Spell Threatens Yields

By Elita Chikwati and Alec Mubani

Crops have wilted due to the prolonged dry spell across most parts of the country, making it likely that harvests will be reduced and more imports required.

The falling yields have cast doubt on whether farmers will be able to harvest the two million tonnes of maize needed to meet internal demand without imports and the target of 216 million kilogrammes of tobacco set for this year.

Zimbabwe farmer in his cornfield -
Zimbabwe farmer in his cornfield –

The south has been so heavily affected that even if it rains now, the bulk of the crops will never recover.

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made on Tuesday said an Agritex team was on the ground carrying out a rapid assessment, which would bring out the real needs ward by ward.

“Even though we have not started the crop assessment, I can confirm that the southern parts of the country have been heavily affected by the dry spell.

“Maize and small grains in south of Manicaland, Mashonaland East, southern parts of the Midlands, Masvingo and Matabeleland South have been severely affected,” he said.

Dr Made said it was too early to talk of figures as the teams were still on the ground.

Read the full article: allAfrica

Drought in Zimbabwe

Photo credit: Google

A woman stands outside of her temporary home and dried up maize crop in Epworth, in Harare, Zimbabwe. Credit: IRIN/Kate Holt

Zimbabwe: Crops Wilt As Dry Spell Persists

The Herald (Harare)


THE continued dry spell in most parts of the country has seriously affected crops, especially maize, threatening hopes of good yields. The outbreak of armyworm and quelea birds has worsened the situation for maize and sorghum farmers.

The Meteorological Services Department had forecast heavy rains in some parts of the country from Friday last week to tomorrow (Tuesday).

Farmers in the southern parts of the country have lost hope of a harvest and said even if the rains come, the crops would not recover.

Zimbabwe is expected to receive normal to above normal rains during this season but these are not good for Agriculture.

Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Dr Joseph Made, has said there was need to invest in irrigation to aid agriculture.

He said due to climate change, farmers could no longer rely on rain-fed agriculture as the patterns were no longer predictable.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union president, Mr Abdul Nyathi, said most farmers in Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South have been severely affected, especially those who planted maize.

“The maize is a write-off and it will never recover even if it rains as we have gone for too long without rains. There is still hope for some small grains if it rains.

Desertification in Zimbabwe: tobacco, logging and charcoal

Photo credit: IPS

Uncontrolled woodcutting in remote areas of Zimbabwe like Mwenezi district has left many treeless fields. Credit: Jeffrey Moyo/IPS

Zimbabwe’s Famed Forests Could Soon Be Desert

by Jeffrey Moyo


“The rate at which deforestation is occurring here will convert Zimbabwe into an outright desert in just 35 years if pragmatic solutions are not proffered urgently” – Marylin Smith, independent conservationist based in Masvingo, Zimbabwe

There’s a buzz in Zimbabwe’s lush forests, home to many animal species, but it’s not bees, bugs or other wildlife. It’s the sound of a high-speed saw, slicing through the heart of these ancient stands to clear land for tobacco growing, to log wood for commercial export and to supply local area charcoal sellers.

Tobacco growers in Zimbabwe -
Tobacco growers in Zimbabwe –

According to the country’s Tobacco Industry Marketing Board, Zimbabwe currently has 88,167 tobacco growers, whom environmental activists say are the catalysts of looming desertification here.

Sheba Forest Estate Sawmill in Zimbabwe. Photo by Juha Kiuru/FAO -
Sheba Forest Estate Sawmill in Zimbabwe. Photo by Juha Kiuru/FAO –

“Curing tobacco using huge quantities of firewood and even increased domestic use of firewood in both rural and urban areas will leave Zimbabwe without forests and one has to imagine how the country would look like after the demise of the forests,” Thabilise Mlotshwa, an ecologist from Save the Environment Association, an environmental lobby group here, told IPS.

“But really, it is difficult to object to firewood use when this is the only energy source most rural people have despite the environment being the worst casualty,” Mlotshwa added.

Zimbabwe’s deforestation crisis is linked to several factors.

Read the full article: IPS

Food shortages continue to plague Zimbabwe

Photo credit: IPS News

Markets are critical to the success of Zimbabwe’s smallholder farmers. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

Good Harvest Fails to Dent Rising Hunger in Zimbabwe

by Busani Bafana

With agriculture as one of the drivers of economic growth, Zimbabwe needs to invest in the livelihoods of smallholder farmers who keep the country fed, experts say.

Agriculture currently contributes nearly 20 percent to Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product (GDP), due largely to export earnings from tobacco production. More than 80,000 farmers have registered to grow the plant this season.

But, even as tobacco harvests expand, food shortages continue to plague Zimbabwe, most dramatically since 2000 when agricultural production missed targets following a controversial land reform that took land from white farmers and distributed it to black Zimbabweans.

Depressed production has been blamed on droughts, but poor support to farmers has also contributed to food deficits and the need to import the staple maize grain annually.

Last year, the World Food Programme (WFP) reported that “hunger is at a five-year high in Zimbabwe with one-quarter of the rural population, equivalent to 2.2 million people, estimated to be facing food shortages …”

Read the full article: IPS News

Climate change and agriculture in Zimbabwe (Practical Action)

Read at :,21F7B,6VIP6A,7CG9E,1

Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation in Agricultural Extension – Part 1

A training manual on use of climate information and vulnerability and capacity assessment for agricultural extension staff in Zimbabwe.

Re-planting efforts in Zimbabwe (Google / The Standard)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification’s complement re-planting effortsBy Chipo Masara

With the wanton, thoughtless and indiscriminate cutting down of trees still very much going on; the country is fast facing desertification. But because organisations like Forestry Commission, Friends of the Environment and Environment Africa have evidently been working tirelessly to try and reverse the damage; maybe all is not quite lost yet.

With the 2011/2012 tree planting season having clearly come to an end, I will endeavour to find out from those organisations that were most noticeable in attempts to restore the country’s lost forests through vigorous tree-planting campaigns how much their efforts have yielded.

It would also be important to find out, considering that people still continue to exhibit destructive traits, how these organisations plan to preserve the progress made.

A few months ago, we carried a story of the invasion of the Chiredzi Conservancy, a move that has not only put in grave danger the lives of the animals, but has now seen very little being left of the forests that previously covered the area.

More recent was the story this paper covered in the April 29-May 5 issue, entitled Zanu PF land invaders threaten scenic Vumba, in which the writer reported of how some settlers were being “accused of destroying the scenic Eastern Highlands by indiscriminately cutting down indigenous and exotic trees and wanton hunting of wild animals.”

It is the bringing down of trees for personal gain, exacerbating land degradation, that forms the subject of this instalment. As the situation stands, there has developed a major dependency on trees to cater for many people’s energy needs, no thanks to the now very erratic power supplies from the Zesa.

Tobacco farmers, most of who have admitted their operations are still too small-scale for them to afford the use of coal in curing their crop, have also been found to be major culprits in the destruction of trees.

But in spite of the gloomy picture painted above, there are people who are making an awesome effort to try to reverse the situation, albeit facing a lot of resistance.



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