Climate change and adaptation impacts in mixed crop-livestock systems in south west Zimbabwe - Policy Brief 39, November 2021


Key messages

  1. Science-based evidence should play a key role for guiding Zimbabwe’s national agricultural and climate change related policies and adaptation options.

  2. In south west Zimbabwe where soil fertility is low, crop and livestock productivity, poverty, and food insecurity can only be reduced with transformation of the agrifood system.

  3. A sustainable agricultural development pathway (SD) that diversifies crop production and enhances the livestock sector may provide effective and equitable solutions, enabling farmers to increase farm incomes and food security in a future that includes climate change.

  4. Raising the economic importance of livestock involves increasing livestock offtake levels and milk production through better integration with crops, and ensuring that the resource poor participate in and benefit from interventions and improved markets.

  5. Vulnerability to climate change is high with increased productivity, as the risk to lose also increases. Investment in SD offsets the negative impacts of climate change more effectively. Climate change adaptation strategies are thus needed to support the transformation of agri-food systems while minimizing risk of losses.

  6. Improved livestock feeding (crop residues, forage, supplements) and switching from cattle to goats are some of the profitable ways to adapt to climate change, which increases the likely return on farm system improvement as well.

  7. However, in order to address inherent trade -offs with environmental benefits and reducing GHG emissions, more drastic mitigation efforts are required. Improved feed production and livestock feed conversion are critical to enhance individual animal productivity and resource use efficiency.