Policy makers, researchers and agricultural extension workers came together to learn how to develop future farm scenarios and co-design pathways that will lead Zimbabwe farmers out of poverty and equip them to face future climate and economic shocks. As part of the workshop activity, the group reviewed contrasting pathways that might shape the future of farming in Zimbabwe and came up with Representative Agricultural Pathways and Scenarios (RAPS) (see box).
Need for gender-inclusive policies
The workshop specially focused on gender and nutrition. The impact of national level policies to shape the future of women in farming was among the issues discussed. “Women carry the major burden of farming in Zimbabwe, and there is no sign that this is going to change in the future; it might rather increase as male labor leaves rural areas for wage labor opportunities. Hence, what would it mean if policy evolved to ensure women equal control over resources, production factors and information? What would be the implications for food security and nutrition?” These questions were raised by Dr Amy Sullivan, Bridgewater Consulting, AgMIP stakeholder liaison.
Leveraging uptake of climate-adaptation technologies
The importance of sharing information on technologies was also stressed in one of the sessions. “Informing crop improvement programs is critical, especially for supporting the highly vulnerable smallholder farmers in marginal areas to adapt to climate variability and change,” said
Dr Dumisani Kutywayo, Director Crops Research Division, Department of Research and Specialists Services.
Mr Ben Mache, Head of Crops Agricultural Technical and Extension Services said that such dialogues help to create conditions and mechanisms that can leverage uptake of technologies and cater to shock situations, in preparation for agriculture under future climate scenarios.
In this context, the importance of web-based tools was stressed. Special mention was made of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) tool ‘Impacts Explorer’ to make information available to a broad range of users, and for revision and adjustment processes (www.agmip.org).
The science behind RAPS
Presenting the science behind RAPs, Dr Roberto Valdivia, Economist, Co-leader of the AgMIP regional economics team, Oregon State University, said it is a structured research-led approach to inform solutions across national and local scales. “It is an important source of information that can guide future decisions about crop and livestock production, illustrating supply and demand at national and international markets in order to meet future requirements. It can guide policy processes and facilitate dialogue with research towards integrated farming systems,” said Dr Reneth Mano, Agricultural Economist, Livestock and Meat Advisory Council, Zimbabwe.
Sharing the scope of the AgMIP project Dr Sabine Homann-Kee Tui, Scientist, Markets, Institutions, Nutrition & Diversity, ICRISAT, and Principal Investigator, Crop Livestock Intensification Project (CLIP), highlighted the CLIP project in Nkayi district as a regional case study that looks at options for redesigning mixed crop-livestock farming systems facing climate change.
The workshop titled “Future scenarios to inform decision making processes: National RAPs for Zimbabwe” was held as part of the AgMIP project, which aims at understanding climate change impacts and prioritizing effective adaptation strategies. The sessions covered relevance for future farming beyond the AgMIP focus on climate change which included the future state of the environment, distribution of wealth and gender inclusiveness.
The workshop was held at the ICRISAT-Zimbabwe office on 25-26 October. Participants represented Department
of Research and Specialist Services, Department of Climate Change, Meteorological Service Department, Agricultural Technical and Extension Services, Department of Livestock Production and Development, Ministry of Women Affairs, Department of Economics and Markets, Livestock and Meat Advisory Council, UNDP and Nkayi Rural District Council.
The AgMIP Crop Livestock Intensification Project (CLIP) team facilitating this workshop included researchers from ICRISAT, Matopos Research Institute, ICRAF, National University of Science and Technology, Institute for Development Research and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The workshop was supported by DFID, CLIP research team, AgMIP, Columbia University, Oregon State University and ICRISAT.
Contrasting scenarios for developing RAPS
Two contrasting pathways “Greener Pastures” and “Thistles and Thorns” were defined by the participants.
“Greener pastures” was defined as a future towards sustainable development, slow and inclusive agricultural growth, strong engagement of farmers’ unions and the private sector. Women would play a strong role in agriculture, which would directly translate into greater diversity in production, food and nutrition security, supported by policy directives that promote inclusive agricultural development. Given assumptions of rapid economic growth dominating social and environmental considerations the future in Zimbabwe would look very different.
“Thistles and Thorns” was illustrated as a future with islands of highly productive areas, while most people would be driven into marginal lands, impoverishment of the bottom poor. Under this more aggressive approach to development, women would be largely excluded from decisions, vulnerable groups securing their livelihoods off-farm, stronger rural urban migration. There would be trade-offs between export oriented cash crops and nutrition.
Both, the “Greener Pastures” and “Thistles and Thorns” worlds were assumed to have a queen in one case and a king in the other. Participants were divided to be part of those kingdoms, adopting the role of advisors, to make sure that policies, institutions and technologies would follow the socio-economic and biophysical trends to arrive at these future worlds. The participatory and interdisciplinary approach enlightened the scenario development process across national and district scales.
Participants experienced how scenarios can provide useful information for future oriented priority setting for both research and policy making. “Generating RAPS illustrated the need for better streamlined two-way dialogue among researchers and policy makers. Co-designing RAPS is necessarily iterative, and requires feedback from stakeholders. It is important that RAPS represent trade-offs between economic growth, social and environmental consequences,” said Dr Valdivia. They must be explicit on drivers that define the levels of wealth distribution, equity vs manifestation of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. Specific organizations can then use the RAPs for shaping their own investments and strategic plans.
For more information on our work in Zimbabwe see here
For more information on development pathways see here