From Zimbabwe to Zambia – a Tale of Two Soils.
Each country in Africa has a unique story to tell when it comes to its soil. Varying in quality and with disparate challenges – their unifying feature is that the soil provides an important source of livelihood to many that live on it. Protecting these soils against over-cultivation and climate change is critical to ensuring sustainable futures for millions of citizens.
Humana People to People works with its member countries to identify challenges and empower those living on the land to overcome them and protect their soils. Here is a brief tale of two countries the Federation has worked with to date.
Agriculture occupies a central place in Zimbabwe’s economy and has the power to significantly reduce poverty, and create sustainable economic development. However, like many countries in the region, Zimbabwe faces widespread land degradation problems. Accelerated soil erosion, due in part to growing pressures on the land, is an ever increasing threat to agriculture and livelihoods. It is estimated that 10 percent of the country’s soils are under high risk of erosion and that arable lands lose 17.8 million tonnes of soil nutrients each year due to land degradation. In the Mashonaland central province, the majority of the soils are deep and fertile. However, year in year out large-scale commercial and conventional farming has heavily eroded once fertile top soils. Many now occupying the land are resettled farmers who are not equipped with the necessary skills around soil husbandry to cultivate their soil and are not adhering to practices such as maintaining contour ridges. This pressure on the land has and will continue to heavily impact productivity. The region accounts for 8.5 percent of the country’s total population which is growing rapidly. The consequent necessity for intensification of food production means the management of soils will become increasingly important today and in coming years.
DAPP Zimbabwe is working with farmers to protect these vital soils – which are an irreplaceable lifeline and a key to a sustainable future. Through climate smart agricultural techniques and improved farming practices – farmers are empowered with the necessary techniques to regenerate their land. Improved practices produce fertile land which becomes the foundation for stronger communities. These communities are now able to produce higher yields and farm profitably and sustainably.
Just across the border in Zambia – the soil tells a different story for now. Zambia still has vast swathes of fertile soil – which has helped to create a buoyant agricultural sector. And to date it has largely been spared from the adverse impacts of land degradation by conventional farming and soil mismanagement. However, the production of charcoal poses a growing threat to Zambia’s soils. Charcoal production is so large scale that many of Zambia’s major towns are ringed by widening areas of land degradation. Additionally, the wheel ruts of trucks that are used to collect the charcoal create runoffs into channels which promote the initial stages of soil erosion.
DAPP Zambia has been working in a number of districts on rural resilience initiatives and soil fertility management technologies. These programmes educate local farmers and communities on the impact of charcoal production on the soils and environment, teaching farmers sustainable tree management and alternative, more viable, farming practices. Through DAPP Zambia’s farmers’ clubs, communities are able to stave off the effects of over-cultivation, grow climate resilient crops and protect their soils.
Humana People to People understands the necessity of protecting the soils in countries where they are most at threat. We work to ensure that the soils are recognised as an important lifeline and a key to a sustainable future for millions of citizens not just in Africa but across the world.