WASHINGTON DC —
The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and its partners on Thursday launched a $4 million project that will support smallholder farmers in four Southern African countries in managing the climate to boost crop production. Our correspondent Irwin Chifera reports from Harare.
The project being financed mostly by the European Union (EU) will benefit 3,000 smallholder farmers in drought prone areas in South Africa, Madagascar, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Speaking at the launch in Harare, FAO country representative, Mr. David Phiri, said the project is aimed at boosting food production in the face of climate change.
Mr. Phiri said the high dependence on rainfall by smallholder farmers in the region renders them vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change.
He said it was therefore necessary to launch this project in order to assist farmers in identifying, analyzing and documenting climate-related risks and coping mechanisms.
Mr. Phiri further said the project will also focus on research, capacity building, learning and partnerships between Europe and the southern African region.
Speaking at the same occasion, EU second secretary responsible for economic co-operation and food security in Zimbabwe, Paulina Rozycka, said the project will complement other agricultural projects which the organization is funding in Zimbabwe and the southern African region.
Climatic hazards such as droughts, floods and cyclones, food insecurity and high HIV prevalence, among others, have led to loss of human life and assets in farming communities.
Experts say climatic exacerbates existing vulnerabilities.
FAO partners in the three-year project include academic institutions in Europe and southern Africa, civil society organizations, farmer organizations, dealers, policy and decisions makers and the media.