Climate smart crops for food and nutritional security for semi-arid zones of Zimbabwe
Southern Africa smallholder farmers continue to be the most affected by the challenges
of climate change and variability. The variability of climate demands the use of a
variety of agronomic strategies and crop choices. Traditional drought tolerant cereal
crops such as sorghum and millets are often chosen when drought seasons are
anticipated. However, there are certain crops, originating elsewhere, that could help the
smallholder farmers increase diversity of crops that can be grown in changed climates.
Trials were conducted to test a basket of known and introduced climate smart crops in
the field. The cereal crops tested were maize, sorghum, pearl and finger millet, and
legumes: tepary bean (Phaseolus acutifolias), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), Bambara
nut (Vigna subterranea), groundnut (Arachis hypogaea) and pigeon pea (Cajanus
cajan. A second experiment was conducted to determine the effects of inorganic
fertilizer and rhizobium inoculation on the growth and grain yield of field grown tepary
bean. Both experiments were laid out in a randomized complete block design with three
replications. Due to drought conditions during the growing season, cereal crops could
not produce grain yield, as there was no grain filling. Despite this, cereal biomass was
5t ha-1 for maize, followed by sorghum (1.3t ha-1) and millet (1.2t ha-1). Legume crops
produced grain with cowpea yielding 568.1kg ha-1 of grain, followed by tepary bean
(245.9kg ha-1) and common bean (227kg ha-1). This is important for food, nutrition and
health security of smallholder communities. Tepary bean inoculated with rhizobium
and had fertilizer applied produced higher grain yield than those without fertilizer or
rhizobium inoculant (P≤0.05). In conclusion, resource poor farmers, affected by
drought effects of climate change, can adopt both cereals and legumes climate smart
crops, in order to create food and nutritional security. This is crucial for food and
nutritional security of vulnerable households affected by climate change and variability.
Key words: tepary bean, climate smart crop, drought, smallholder farmers
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