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Comprehensive scoping and assessment study of climate smart agriculture (CSA) policies in Zimbabwe
30 April 2014
Emmanuel Manzungu

Objectives and Methodology of Study

The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network is implementing a number of climate smart agriculture projects in East and Southern Africa including in Zimbabwe. The overall objective of the study was to conduct a comprehensive scoping and assessment of climate smart agriculture policies in Zimbabwe. The study sought to conduct a review of the existing climate smart agriculture policies, analyze gaps in the existing policy frameworks, identify relevant policy recommendations, and develop and share policy recommendations. Effort was also made to assess CSA-relevant practices, social and gender equity issues where possible.

The study followed a number of iterative steps in data collection and analysis. An internet-based literature survey was used to find out the meaning and scope of climate smart agriculture in the international arena, which was a precursor to assessing the level of understanding and implementation of climate smart agriculture in Zimbabwe. This was achieved by reviewing policies, laws and strategies across the agricultural and related sectors, interviewing 24 individuals who represented stakeholders from the government, non-governmental, research (national and international), private sector and development agencies and discussing preliminary findings at the validation workshop attended by 35 participants.

Context for climate smart agriculture

The assessment of climate smart agricultural policies in Zimbabwe took into account the country's biophysical and socio-economic environment. About 60% of the country receives less than 650 mm of rainfall per year. In these areas are found about 7 million people whose livelihoods depend on agriculture, which is constrained by poor rainfall, low soil fertility and weak institutions. Rainfed agriculture remains the only option of these smallholder farmers, because of high irrigation costs. Rainfed production, is hhowever, negatively affected because of negative biophysical and socio-economic conditions (low rainfall, poor soil fertility and poor economic performance), a situation has resulted in a situation of widespread food insecurity. Research and development efforts have been directed at finding solution to improve rainfed agriculture. The country has a long history of development of technological innovations. Climate change, however, poses serious challenges not just in relation to the development of climate smart technologies and practices, but also developing a climate smart agricultural policy.

Summary of findings

There were many CSA activities that were being implemented by government, international research organizations and universities, and NGOs. These incorporated virtually all known examples of climate smart agriculture as captured in international literature, which included research, development, advocacy and training involving germplasm selection (e.g. introduction and seed multiplication of drought tolerant crops and animal breeds), diversification of crop production (away from crop types and varieties that are susceptible to moisture stress), animal production diversification through the promotion of small livestock and breeds that are drought tolerant, promotion of climate change adaptation-related agronomic practices such as conservation agriculture, and promoting climate change mitigation agricultural production such as organic farming, to cite the main ones. The activities were spread practically across the entire country, and involved thousands of vulnerable households. The list of CSA technologies and practices that were presented is by no means exhaustive because of time and resource constraints. The list should therefore be regarded as examples of CSA technologies and practices. Even the examples are by no means complete. For example there was not enough information on CSA champions that were highlighted during the validation workshop. All the same the list is adequate for a scoping study.

Despite the awareness, climate change issues in Zimbabwe have not yet been mainstreamed into land use planning and agriculture. This is a consequent of a lack of a coordinated policy frameworks that addresses the legal framework, policy pronouncements and institutional arrangements. The macro economic and political conditions that obtained in Zimbabwe at the moment constrained such a development. All the same there were useful elements that were captured in the various government documents. The Ministry of Environment demonstrated leadership in the formulation of climate change policies, which incorporated aspects of climate smart agriculture. Unfortunately the ministry responsible for agriculture lacked the drive to mainstream CSA in its policies. The fact that the country is economically agriculture-dependent makes it critical that a clear stand-alone climate change agriculture-related policy is produced rather than the current situation where various aspects were strewn across ministries and departments without strong coordinating structures and linkages with other sectors.


Since the need of a climate change policy in Zimbabwe was now agreed it was important that such a policy should capture critical policy elements, which include:

  • Clarifying the substantive issues around climate change in agriculture vis-à-vis its actual meaning and what exactly can be said to be climate smart
  • Identifying key agricultural technologies and production systems across all sub-sectors that would be showcased as climate smart, which can be based on the champions and community of practice that were identified during the validation workshop
  • Identifying and promote supporting information production and dissemination in the farming community, schools and tertiary institutions
  • Identifying and promote those agricultural practices (REDD+ inclined) that could take advantage of international funding such as voluntary carbon credits especially against a backdrop of widespread deforestation in the country due to tobacco curing
  • Promote good CSA governance by, among other things, ensuring that there was a coordinated legal and institutional framework for the enforcement of climate smart agriculture interventions
  • Ensuring that the general climate change policy was complemented by a current and pro-climate smart agriculture agricultural policy, which should include to a) best practices that need to be upscaled, b) strategies for financial mobilization for climate change mitigation and adaptation, c) gender aspects indicating how the likely poor agricultural prospects due to climate change will affect women and youth, d) effective institutional arrangements, and e) show linkages with other sectors.

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