The environmental changes have meant that farmers like Ipaishe Masvingise, have had to adapt to using new technologies and farming techniques, such as building irrigation systems, introducing mulch to conserve moisture in the soil, and diversification of crops to increase their chances of successful harvests.
“Working the land is the only way to survive in this area. We depend on our harvest for both money and food, but recently, the weather has become nearly impossible to predict. A few years ago, the rains came late into the season. In the middle of the season though, the skies cleared up and the ground and our crops dried in the merciless heat. After that drought came intense rains, which then flooded and drowned fields.”
Ipaishe is a rarity in the farming community of her home of Gutu, southern Zimbabwe, she owns her own land and is a widower, challenges that are difficult to overcome in the best of circumstances. The effects of climate change on the land are now presenting Ipaishe with additional challenges.
“Things are not easy. Farming in such a dry area means dedicating yourself entirely. If you don’t, then the land will give you nothing back.
Through her use of innovative farming techniques, Ipaishe represents a movement that is seeing farmers in in Zimbabwe rethink and adjust their usual processes to keep their communities fed and economies afloat. That coupled with old-fashioned community help, where those who are less fortunate are given food in return for labour.
Ipaishe and other women in her community are leading an irrigation project with Oxfam that is ensuring that farmers in Zimbabwe can grow enough food to feed themselves and their families, whatever the weather.