Livestock Production in the Face of Climate Change


Sparsely distributed Mopani vegetation characterised by patches of grass can be noted when entering ward 30 of Buhera District. In some places, vast areas of bare soil with little or no sign of grass can be seen.  Of particular note is the heat and dryness of the area. It is seen that the maize crop that people had planted has wilted and hope of
attaining a harvest is dim.

Emily Matingo, a climate change scientist in the Climate Change Management Department under the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate had this to say, “Due to climate change, some areas such as ward 30 in Buhera District are no longer conducive for cereal production such as the maize crop. In such areas, droughts have become frequent and mid-season dry spells have become prominent. ”

To back this up, Peter (not his real name), a member of the community had the following to say; “We as a community have been greatly affected by the effects of climate change. Due to the frequent droughts that constantly affect us, our maize crops fail after having put in hard work and a lot of financial resources. Though we started intercropping with the introduction of crops such as groundnuts which do not require a lot of water, we at times lose on the groundnuts because mid-season dry spells are constantly experienced. This makes us lose heart as our efforts more often than not seem to go up in flames.”

Following the shift in climate, the community in ward 30, Buhera District through the support of the Oxfam-UNDP/GEF supported Scaling Up Adaptation with a Focus on Rural Livelihoods Project (SCCA) managed to turn to livestock production as one of the many climate change adaptation strategies.

“When the Scaling up Adaptation Project came to introduce livestock rearing as an adaption strategy we were sceptical. This was so because as with the crops, our cattle used to also be affected by the droughts. We would lose a lot of cattle due to unavailability of feed and water shortages. But through the SCCA project, all our worries and doubts have been taken away as we have been shown how to climate proof our livelihoods, especially pertaining to livestock.” Peter expresses with confidence.

“The first step was in forming a community livestock producer group. Our group named Hazvikoreri Livestock Enterprise which I am Chairman, consists of 68 members. The SCCA project through SAFIRE went on to empower us by encouraging us to rear a variety of livestock such as cattle, broiler chickens and goats so as to increase our resilience by diversifying the livestock options. We received training of how to take care of our livestock. I must confess, we did not know the importance of growing food for livestock but through the project, we have started growing fodder crops for our cattle in addition to planting trees that are nutritious for our cattle such as Mucuna. We have seen the benefits to this as cattle mortality has decreased and even if you look at them, they look healthier and stronger.” Peter adds on with excitement.

“Given the improvement of the health status of our cattle, we were encouraged through the project to monetise our livestock. As a result, a feedlot was constructed where we have feeding lots and a solar powered borehole was also set up to provide access to water for our livestock. We now practice pen fattening and through the help of SAFIRE and our agriculture extension workers, we have been empowered to secure a market to sell our cattle. This has become our main source of income in addition to it becoming our main source of livelihood. For our pen fattening project, we starting with cattle, however plans are underway to set up another pen for goats. We also have a chicken project, with the chicken selling like hot cakes such that the demand exceeds the supply. It is our vision that the Hazvikoreri Livestock Enterprise also deals with rearing of indigenous chicken breeds in addition to the broiler chickens as well as go as far as fish farming. We want to diversify the animals we keep and sell. ” Peter concludes.

Esther (Not her real name), a member of the Livestock Enterprise, elaborated how happy she was to be part of the group, “Many of us were encouraged to join group even though we did not own any cattle. We were then capacitated to start a Village Lending and Savings Group where we saved some money to purchase chicks for the broiler project as the SCCA project provided a fowl run. With our earning from bird sales, we formed groups in 4’s and managed to purchase a cow for each group.  It is my hope that we can only go up from here until we each own our own livestock. This project has been extremely welcomed among women as it empowers even those with nothing to their name. Others continue to join seeing the benefits we are getting from it and how it is changing our lives. ”

Dr Unganai, the Project Manager for the SCCA project indicated that the success of the project was attributed to coordinated planning and implementation among the SCCA project team (OXFAM and SAFIRE), the community and government technical experts with support from the Scaling up Adaptation in Zimbabwe with a focus on Integrated Planning Systems Project. “It is very encouraging to see the community being self-motivated and self-mobilising. The idea to set up a second pen was an initiative from the community where they self-funded material for its construction. It is also encouraging to see various government departments such as AGRITEX, Livestock Production Department and the Department of Veterinary Services coming in a coordinated way to assist in the project through provision of training, engagement of markets, and even up to the selling of cattle and the signing of contracts so as to ensure the best interests of the farmers are met.”

The Initiative is being championed under the Scaling up Adaptation Project with a focus on Rural Livelihoods implemented by OXFAM through SAFIRE in Buhera and Chimanimani and through Plan International in Chiredzi; and under the Scaling up Adaptation in Zimbabwe through Strengthening Integrated Planning Systems Project implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate through EMA.

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