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Institutional Arrangements for Managing Risk for Crop Production and Post-Harvest Handling in Climate Disaster-Prone Areas of Zimbabwe
30 April 2016


Introduction

1.1 Agriculture, Climate Risks, Policy and Institutional dimensions in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwean economy is driven by agriculture and the majority of the rural people depend on it for their livelihood. Agriculture contributes approximately 18% to Zimbabwe's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is the main source of livelihood for 65% to 70% of the population, a source of principal raw materials for 60% of the manufacturing sector in Zimbabwe, and accounts for 40% to 45% of the country's merchandize exports (Mutambara et al., 2013). The agricultural sector in Zimbabwe comprises of crops and livestock farming. The diverse agro-climatic conditions enable Zimbabwe to grow a large variety of food and commercial crops and livestock. More than 23 types of food and cash crops are grown (MAMID, 2013). Zimbabwean agriculture is now predominantly smallholder agriculture with more than 90% of farming land in the hands of smallholders, in various clusters that include communal land, old resettlements, small-scale commercial farming areas and peri-urban areas. Zimbabwe is particularly susceptible to climate change and climate variability in the form of droughts and floods. An assessment of historical rainfall patterns over southern Africa shows statistically significant increases in the length of the dry season during the period 1961-2005 (Tadross, et al., 2007).

Given the continued evidence of climate change, sustainable agriculture and economic development depend on mainstreaming strategies to reduce the negative effects of climate change on development. The need for a well-organized climate risk management structure is obvious given the increased risks associated with climate change in crop production and other agricultural and non-agricultural sectors. Practical management systems are strongly dependent on good governance systems (Makadho, 2013). Institutional and policy issues become critical for successful climate risk management in crops and post harvesting processes. Elements of governance include policy development, legislation, regulation and enforcement, institutional structures, and decision-making processes, including stakeholder consultation and the quality of relations between stakeholders. Climate-resilient cropping systems require strategies that take into consideration the biophysical environment (soils, water, pests and climate) as well as the social, economic and institutional factors (Makadho, 2013). Institutions provide frameworks for policy and legislative action, while the ability of a given institution or organization to fulfil its mandate depends not only on power relationships, the source of the mandate and political "rightness" or acceptability, but also on the capacities of the individuals representing consortia of stakeholders (Gumbo, 2006).

1.2 Climate risks faced by smallholder farmers in crop production

In Zimbabwe, agriculture-related disaster risk management has been criticized for being biased towards crisis management rather than risk management, meaning that society moves from one disaster to the next without reducing the risks or the effects. The priority has been placed on activities championed from high offices such as the president's, through the Vulnerability Assessment Committee which is a multiple stakeholder organ. Food relief agencies such the UN World Food Program, which is prominent in the country, also approaches the issues reactively.

In Zimbabwe, agriculture-related disaster risk management has been criticized for being biased towards crisis management rather than risk management, meaning that society moves from one disaster to the next without reducing the risks or the effects. The priority has been placed on activities championed from high offices such as the president's, through the Vulnerability Assessment Committee which is a multiple stakeholder organ. Food relief agencies such the UN World Food Program, which is prominent in the country, also approaches the issues reactively.

Other development partners have undertaken substantial work on risk management (preparedness, mitigation, response, rehabilitation and prevention) to help governments cope with the potentially devastating effects of variations in climate (Wilhite, 1999; Vogel et al., 1999). Deliberations are now underway to strengthen risk management for climate change in all the sectors of the economy including agriculture. Improved operational capabilities (climate and water monitoring, institutional capacity, information flow, and coordination within response structures) with better mitigation and risk management could reduce the negative effects of climate change in crop production. Hopefully, the recently announced Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate Change will further this cause in coordination with key ministries such as MAMID. In Zimbabwe, national and regional governmental and non-governmental bodies coordinate an early warning system to make climate related information on crop production and consumption available to relevant decision makers to cushion the country against related risks.

1.3 Description of post-harvest handling activities and risks faced by smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe

In most smallholder farming areas of the country, grain production is characterized by one year of good production followed by two or three years of deficit, creating a need for effective post-harvest management strategies to preserve the grain. Post-harvest losses may occur during harvesting, handling, processing and transport. Grain may be scattered, dispersed or crushed. Bio-deterioration may start as the crop reaches physiological maturity, when grain moisture contents reach 20% to 30% and the crop is close to harvest. It is at this stage, while the crop is still standing in the field, that pests may make their first attack and when unseasonal rains can result in mold growth.

Post-harvest food losses are a global issue of growing concern for stakeholders such as governments, farmers, food processors and handlers, as well as consumers, because it is terminal and includes loss of all the other resources that went into production of the food such as fertilizers, pesticides, labour and wear-and-tear on machinery.

With increasing risks associated with climate change in crop production, post-harvest management and other agricultural and non-agricultural sectors, the need for a well-organized climate risk management structure becomes obvious. While practical management systems are strongly dependent on good governance systems (Makadho, 2013), institutional and policy issues become critical for successful climate risk management in crops and post harvesting processes.

1.4 Methodology

A desk study reviewed reports and literature - empirical and theoretical - on institutional arrangements and the policy environment for managing climate risk to crop production and post-harvest management. Key informants were interviewed for information on agriculture and climate change, post-harvest handling and climate-related risks.


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